Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Bella Union Bellav383p
I was unhappy when I saw that Veronica Falls had broken up a few years ago after only two albums. They were my favorite group and their music appealed to me like few bands ever have. Most of the bands that I have loved either went on too long for me to mind when they broke up (like R. E. M.) or broke up before I loved them (like the Beatles.) The only comparable experience I ever had was with Sleater-Kinney and they eventually got back together. I had hoped that might happen with Veronica Falls too, but last year their drummer Patrick Doyle died at the age of 32 ending those hopes. I adored his crisp, muscular drumming and his vocal contribution to the band's trademark multipart harmonies was an essential part of their sound. I've already blogged about "Veronica Falls" and "Waiting For Something To Happen" so I offer up my thoughts about this mini-album as a tribute to Doyle. It was the second of the two homemade tour souvenir records the band recorded of cover songs, although by the time they came to play here in Los Angeles in 2013 it had already sold out and I had to find a copy on the internet. The record opens with "Is Anybody There?" based on a version by Home Blitz (who I had never heard of) of a song originally recorded by the punk band Cock Sparrer (who I had heard of but never listened to.) I checked out both of those versions and Veronica Falls' cover beats both. Driven by Doyle's pounding beat and a polyphonic vocal the band makes the song their own. It would fit comfortably on either of their albums. "Love Minus Zero/No Limit" is of course the Bob Dylan classic from "Bringing It All Back Home." I was dubious at first but the song responds well to the Veronica Falls style particularly the jangly guitars and vocal harmonies. "Teenagers" was originally by the punk band The Rats who I had never heard of when I bought this. I like the original, but Veronica Falls' cover shreds it. The song is ideally suited for them and the teenage angst expressed in the lyrics is very much like their own music. I'm a big fan of "Bury Me Happy" by the Australian band The Moles from their wonderful album "Untune the Sky," but as much as I love it, I prefer the Veronica Falls version mostly because of Roxanne Clifford's vocal. Otherwise they are similar although Veronica Falls' performance is more forceful particularly with Doyle's drumming propelling the song. It is my favorite cut on the record. "Timeless Melody" was originally by the La's on their classic self-titled album. It is another song I'm a big fan of. Both versions are terrific but I give the edge to Veronica Falls mostly because of Clifford's voice. "What Deaner Was Talking About" was released by Ween on "Chocolate and Cheese." I'm not a big Ween fan although I like that album and their version of the song. Veronica Falls' version is very similar only with better singing. It is the song that sounds the least like a typical Veronica Falls song, but I still enjoy it. This a minor record but I still love it. Veronica Falls recorded so little music that I treasure any opportunity to hear them even if they are playing other people's songs. It is also a record that provides ample opportunity to appreciate Patrick Doyle's talents both as a drummer and a singer and to mourn his premature passing. Recommended to fans of The Bangles.