US - New Jersey - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 16 - 02/11/98
The Van Pelt
Sultans Of Sentiment
The Garden State sure knows how to grow the right plants. Two of my long-time
favourites come from New Jersey: first there was the Feelies, and then came Yo La
Tengo. Therefore I was pretty excited about checking out a new band from the
area. Well, this is a new project, but the members have been hanging around with
(and playing with) other bands of the alternative and hard-core scene, such as
Blonde Redhead, Greyhouse, Chisel, and Sick Of It All. Right now the foursome
answer the name The Van Pelt, and, actually this is their 2nd album. Their debut,
Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves, came out one year ago. Since then
they've changed their bass-player (Sean P. Greene replaced Toko Yasuda, who
became a Blonde Redhead), and - recorded Sultans Of Sentiment.
The Van Pelt have come up with 10 songs, of the quiet noise-pop type.
They are not a band writing verse-chorus-verse singsongs. Here are songs
of the anarchistic, unpredictable nature, where the lyrics are short
stories picked from someone's every day life, or sarcastic comments on the
way the society is run. About individuality and democracy. Sometimes pointing
a blunt finger to politics and morality. Tales of the ordinary, but told in a
way that makes them quite un-ordinary. Musically (or songwritingly) they have
been compared to Brit-band the Blue Aeroplanes. Yes, I can agree with that.
Imagine the Blue Aeroplanes performing songs written by Sonic Youth, without
the sawmill-drone guitar-wall. Vocalist, guitarist Chris Leo chat-sings (he is
half singing, half speaking) most of the time, and it fits the music extremely
well. And all around the melodies the guitars tickle and purr rather excellently.
With the song Yamato (Where People Really Die), musically they almost step
into Afghan Whigs territory. Other names that comes to mind are Tom Verlaine,
Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and sometimes a quiet, non-aggressive Fugazi, if you know
what I mean. But most of all they create their very own structure of songs, with
a quite original sound and attitude.
To mention some of the most pleasant moments of this album: Nanzen Kills A
Cat, My Bouts With Pouncing, We Are The Heathens, and The
Young Alchemists. And the most peculiar song-title has to be: Do The Lovers
Still Meet At The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. Yes, The Van Pelt has made an
The Van Pelt, 53 Park Place, Bloomfield, NJ 07003, USA or:
Gern Blandsten Records, PO Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661, USA
Copyright © 1998 Håvard Oppøyen