The Velocet
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The Velocet

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Spotlight On: THE VELOCET
Posted by Jordan A. Baker / July 3, 2007
What if SAMIAM were from Brooklyn? New York's THE VELOCET are an interesting band - their sound is clearly familiar to the propulsive post-punk that their geographical base is known for, but there's a little more than a token nod to actual punk in their style. No - THE VELOCET won't be mistaken for your typical Gilman Street band, but the group isn't exactly screaming "hot dance party action!" either. Look out for their full-length, A Quick and Dirty Guide to War, on Eyeball Records. - Pastepunk


For our readers who have never been involved in the music biz, I'm going to pull the curtain back just a tiny bit. Typically, when albums are sent out to press or radio, a one-sheet is included with a little background information on the band and their album. Sometimes people go a little overboard, piecing together dozens of pages worth of photos, press and other nonsense that still won't get their album listened to. I typically throw them away without reading more than a sentence or two.

While skimming through the sheet included with The Velocet, a couple of little tidbits did catch my eye. The band includes guitarist Kris Ricat (who trained at Julliard), drummer Joe Propatier (touring drummer for Damon Albarn) and bassist Aron Watman (touring member of the Brian Jonestown Massacre). Hot damn!

These guys are the muscle behind frontman Michael Davison, the voice behind Brooklyn's The Velocet. At first listen, A Quick And Dirty Guide To War has overtones of late '80s and early '90s alternative (remember back when alt radio kicked ass?) with a fresh coating of post punk. While I enjoyed the opener, "Chinatown," it was the hand-clap filled "O'Concertina" that sucked me in. It feels like a classic track from The Cars, which in my opinion is a damn good thing. With a hook this solid I will be placing this on my list of best tracks of the summer.

The former military rat has a little angst in him, which can be felt on the rockin' "Alone In Cologne" and "Black Agenda." What I like about this album is that it never falls into a rut, making it quite tough to classify. "Coronation" is a well-produced, harmony filled, epic cut that shows off this band's chops. This could very well be the strongest track on the album, and I can only imagine how kickass it must be live.

The world of post punk is crammed with far too many mediocre bands, so hopefully The Velocet won't get lost in the mucky muck. This is a great release from a group that has somehow remained off my radar up until now.
- The Tripwire


Lead singer and guitarist of the Velocet Michael Davison openly states that he was an army brat growing up and that he must have moved 20 times before graduating from high school. This gives the title of the bands debut album, "A Quick and Dirty Guide to War" a deeper meaning rather than just another band on an incoherent "I hate Bush" musical rant. In fact, the album itself has less to do with politics more to do with the emotions of moving through the military and dealing with the baggage of disillusionment.

As for the sound of the band, the guitars are relentless, the vocals alternate between crooning and a fevered rasp, and the drums propel the tracks to the speed of pure rock bliss. For the uninitiated, I'd say that they sound like a tempered mix of the Foo Fighters, The Strokes, and The Cure. Borrowing accessible riffs and singing style from the first, intricate guitar tricks and occasional new wave indulgences from the second, and the feeling and atmosphere of the reverb from the third.

One album highlight is the blistering opener "Chinatown", which features the line "I'm not hurt, sell me love again." Although it's not clear who he's trying to convince, himself or an unknown woman. Either way the song reaches through organized chaos and yields some vital emotional content. Another standout is "The Turnstiles" for it's almost shoegaze-y layered guitar effects and spare keyboard that break out into a full on Strokes-esque jam. "Coronation" sounds like it would fit perfectly on a later Cure album, especially on the breakdown following the line "The Queen is dead, long live the Queen." Overall, The Velocet combine post punk influences with rock radio aspirations and the result is not only listenable, it's downright good. - Azltron


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 - Absolute Punk


The Velocet
A Quick And Dirty Guide To War
(Eyeball Records)
Rating: 93 out of 100


Eyeball Records seems to be that label that everyone loves but doesn’t know it yet. A lot of people’s favorite bands were launched by Eyeball Records, just check their alumni roster and you’ll be amazed. When I got The Velocet in the mail, it just cemented my infatuation with them. To start off this review, The Velocet is an extremely talented band of musicians from Brooklyn, NY. You may be able to argue about whether or not you like the album, but one thing you can’t do is take anything away from their songwriting abilities.

The album kicks off with the powerful and up tempo song “Chinatown” which draws a lot of similarities with bands like The Killers, Interpol, Kaiser Chiefs, and the likes right off the bat. The song has a very dominating vibe, one that sort of grabs you by the throat. You can’t listen to these tunes and not attempt to dance in your chair. The Velocet seamlessly blends together so many different aspects of music, from modern post-punk and indie rock to 80s music to just straight up rock. The most intriguing part of A Quick and Dirty Guide to War is how they write. Lots of rock bands can assemble songs, you know, verse, chorus, verse, the whole nine yards, but they can’t write, if that makes any sense. They generally consist of some drab riffs then one really catchy part then drab again. However, The Velocet writes songs, there’s no dull moment, there’s not a five second boring snippet on the record. It’s one delicate, yet somehow raucous song after the next. Take for instance “Coronation”, which is pretty mellow for the most part, but when they build up to the chorus, it picks up and gets you moving, especially for the last minute or so of the song.

I can tell you though that you will be clinging to this album for dear life, because it’s just that good. To put it bluntly, The Velocet is an extremely catchy, well written rock band that knows how to suck you in. You won’t want to stop listening to this record.


Rating Breakdown:
Staying Power: 24
Originality: 22
Production: 23
Song Structure & Quality: 24

For fans of: Interpol, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Killers, The Cure, etc.

- Rise and Revolt


Despite the seemingly blatant relevance to the U.S.'s current military policies in the Middle East and despite singer/guitarist Michael Davison's youth as an Army brat and his own stint with the U.S. Marine Corp, the title of The Velocet's upcoming full length Eyeball Records debut, "A Quick And Dirty Guide To War", isn't about politics or involvement with the Armed Forces. It's about life in New York City, alienation, indulgence, pitfalls, and persistence. Currently based in the multifaceted societal mecca of Brooklyn, Davison is backed by local heavy hitters Joe Propatier (the touring drummer for Damon Albarn), Aron Watman (touring bassist of the Brian Jonestown Massacre), and the Juliard trained guitar stylings of Kris Ricat. With a crew like that it should come as no surprise that The Velocet's art is a cut above the rest.
The record, a blast of precise and fervor-filled post-punk-rock boasts both piercing hooks and bone-shaking aggression. Surviving the melee of industry, competition, and chameleon culture in America's most intense metropolis can be an undertaking; perhaps The Velocet's forthcoming release is the perfect field guide. "A Quick And Dirty Guide To War" drops on July 10th courtesy of Eyeball Records.
- Anti-Music


Post-rock? Frenetic chord-changes, shrieking high-register vocals reminiscent of Peter Cetera and emotional outbursts disguised as passion. This is the sound of post-modern rock in 2007. Truth be told, it would be easy to dismiss The Velocet as another faceless indie rock band, but give credit where it’s due. Contained in this sprawling collection of strident nuggets of burnished guitar rock are moments of sheer ingenuity, genuine melodic surprises and cool rhythmic choices; enough to suggest that A Quick and Dirty Guide to War deserves closer inspection to discover the gems hidden in the rough. For instance, the spiky jabs of “The Turnstiles” reveal a memorable chorus hook with vocal harmonies that sparkle: the unique modal progression of “Ring Around the Moon” leads to yet another heartfelt anthemic feel, and the mock-funky strains of “Birdsongs” underpin an obscure lyrical quality - “Row, row the ocean/Slow-mo the motion.” Do these attributes sustain this release sufficiently to prop The Velocet above the modern indie rock crowd? Probably not, but there are definite benefits to staying the course.

--Kevin Mathews
- Amplifer Magazine


Discography

"A Quick and Dirty Guide to War" (2007)
Songs from that record are currently streaming on the internet and being broadcast on various radio stations.

Photos

Bio

Michael Davison, lead vocals/guitar of Brooklyn based The Velocet and self-admitted Army brat explains, I must have moved 20 times by the time I finished high school. At the time, it was all I knew. I thought all kids grew up peering through a chain link fence with concertina wire perched on top. Truth be told, the subject matter of A Quick And Dirty Guide To War is less about Davisons inevitable stint as a Marine after college and more about his slugging it out on the streets of New York since having landed there in 2001 disillusioned with all that was behind him.

Joined by Julliard trained guitarist Kris Ricat, former touring drummer for Blur, Joe Propatier and former touring bassist for Brian Jonestown Massacre, Aron Watman, Davison has been creating the kind of passionate post punk rock that has become synonymous with the burgeoning indie scene in NYC, with one exception: The Velocet has actual songs.

The records opening tune Chinatown is a fitting soundtrack for a bittersweet night of bohemian self indulgence and hipster bravado. The follow up Concertina - titled as much for the songs heroine as it is for the cycloned razor wire that lined every Army base backyard Davison grew up on - hangs the listeners ears helplessly on a guitar hook that somehow effortlessly destroys everything it its wake. Ultimately, TheVelocet offer song after song of tuneful and exciting, if not dance/riot inducing, alt-rock on A Quick And Dirty Guide To War; and we happily accept.

Transplanted from the grimy streets of Greenpoint, to the peaceful and scenic town of Rhinebeck, NY by producer and sonic guru Dan Goodwin at The Clubhouse, The Velocet captured everything they envisioned for their debut out on Eyeball Records July 10th. It's consistent from Kris' first guitar line on Chinatown to when Joe throws his drumsticks at the end of Grand Mal. The band will be touring extensively throughout 2007 to bring A Quick And Dirty Guide To War to your living room.