Velvet Crush Stereo Blues

[Action Musik; 2004]

Styles: power pop
Others: The Tyde, Matthew Sweet (at his best)

Much like the title of Velvet Crush's 2002 effort, Soft Sounds, you can take the title of Stereo Blues pretty much literally. Okay, it's not a straight blues album (although it would pass for one by the standards of most classic rock stations' blues shows), but it's their most straight-ahead, blues-based album since 1998's Heavy Changes. And that's a good thing. There are some unexpected moments, such as the chaotic opener, "Rusted Star," and the album is too kinetic to sound formulaic. The hooks and harmonies are still there, as are the psychedelic and country/folk influences, but at its heart and on its surface, this album rocks. And that, my friends, is what Velvet Crush do best.

Oh, who am I kidding? This album only rates a 4/5 for me and maybe a few residents of the Champagne-Urbana area. But not every album can be a quantum leap into the future of music. There's something, a lot in fact, to be said for doing something old well. Love triangles are still an incredibly compelling basis for books and movies. A great curry, enchilada, or heck, bacon cheeseburger holds its own against whatever the new kid on the culinary block may be. And the best blues, jazz, and rock albums sometimes transcend their genre not through stylistic innovation, but through sheer quality of songwriting and musicianship. Stereo Blues doesn't quite reach that level (although Velvet Crush's 1994 album Teenage Symphonies to God does), but it's close; and if that's not enough for you, just keep rotting your brains listening to Kid A.

1. Rusted Star
2. Do What You Want
3. Here It Comes
4. The Connection
5. Son of Ray
6. California Incline
7. Fall Awake
8. Want You Now
9. B-Side Blues
10. Get Yourself Right
11. Great to Be Fine