The Velocet – A Quick And Dirty Guide To War
Record Label: Eyeball Records
Release Date: July 10, 2007
Michael Davison is one tough cookie. He spent his childhood shuffling from military base to military base. Not surprisingly (or, possibly quite surprisingly), Davison joined the United States Marines. As a few of you know, we are at war. Marines do some of the dirtiest work of all, and Davison was no different. And if that life wasn’t hard enough, he decided to start a band. Talk about war wounds. I’m not sure what sorts of medals he received in the service, but A Quick And Dirty Guide To War easily wins the “Blake Solomon Award for best post-punk album conceived by a former Marine.” Catchy, I know.
Despite the album art and title, most of the lyrics throughout Guide To War shy from military themes. Instead Davison and Co. serve up melodic, slightly accented anthems about life in New York City. The hip part of NYC, what with it’s forgotten trends and ousted poster-boys, is very scary in it's own right. But it’s also a great area to push budding indie rock on snobs who can’t wait to love you and hate you simultaneously.
The riffs of Kris Ricat are the true draw. From instantly infectious “Chinatown” to raspy and slow “Coronation”, Ricat puts melody ahead of everything. It’s greatly appreciated, as post-punk can sometimes get a bit Mohawk-y. If we wanted that, we wouldn’t have showered today. The Velocet are hardly dirty or grimy, but the shiny polish isn’t overdone.
Davison’s vocals have an edge about them, especially on “Birdsongs,” which recalls a time before cell phones and laptops. He can handle slower tracks such as “Birdsongs,” but he leads the dancy percussion of “Alone In Cologne” with a white-gloved fist. In true Brit-punk fashion, the lyrics are cheeky and comically sneering.
The songwriting on Guide To War never imitates too much or too little. The influences are clear in each song, but the creativity of The Velocet shines bright, especially on closer “Grand Mal.” A mash of pop, punk and progressive styles, the track changes frequently and impresses even more. Davison lowers his vocals a la Kele Okereke and the guitars screech and stray far from any recognizable tempos.
A Quick And Dirty Guide To War accomplishes everything a good post-punk release should. The lyrics are thoughtful, the vocals are spirited and the guitars chug ever-so-lightly. We get all the social discussions without the sit-ins and fasting. Who said activism requires activity? Not this guy.
Recommended If You Like: Bloc Party, The Strays, rations, Coffinberry, IED’s