The new Vetiver album, The Errant Charm, on Sub Pop Records is a superb soundtrack for an afternoon idyll. Vetiver bandleader Andy Cabic spent hours wandering the streets around San Francisco's Richmond District, listening to rough mixes, tinkering with lyrics and arrangements. You can hear his strides in the tempo of "Hard To Break," which captures the brisk gait one might adopt while passing through a public green space.
But you’re not there yet. “Hard To Break” is the fourth song, and there's no need to rush. The album opens with "It's Beyond Me," a slow boil of acoustic guitar and vintage keyboards over a roomy beat. Here you'll encounter almost every sonic idea showcased on The Errant Charm, the album's universe distilled into one vibrant, six-and-a-half minute song. It builds to a robust character you've not heard from Vetiver before, but may have anticipated if you've followed them over the last four albums, from their eponymous 2004 debut through 2009's Tight Knit.
As the summery "Can’t You Tell" unfurls, you may begin to pinpoint some of the album's unifying elements, the integration of drum machines and a washed-out, ambient guitar sound, peppered with jangly flourishes. It comes as little surprise to learn that the music of the Durutti Column is a popular favorite in the Vetiver tour van. Likewise, the curious lyric of "Can’t You Tell" is buried low in the mix, teasing the ear, tip-toeing the fine line between revealing and obscuring meaning.
Yellowbirds is the moniker for the music of Sam Cohen (formerly guitarist / songwriter / vocalist in the psychedelic collective Apollo Sunshine). Cohen grew up in Houston, Texas, and while the Texas of his teens may have been home to Big Oil, Enron, the Bush family, and the drab grey Astros jerseys we see today, he prefers to think of it as the Texas of yore- home to Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, the Space Program, and the rainbow-orange Astros jerseys of old. It stands to reason, then, that his current home of New York City must be the mythical Empire City - Rocky Mountains of architecture, epicenter of modern art, home to Charles Mingus and The Velvet Underground.
Meg Baird is an American musician originally from New Jersey and currently based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is best known as a founding member and lead female vocalist for the Philadelphia folk rock band Espers. In 2007, Baird released her first solo LP Dear Companion on Drag City. She has also collaborated with sister Laura in The Baird Sisters, and appeared as a backing vocalist on Bonny 'Prince' Billy's 2007 EP Ask Forgiveness. She also appeared as a backing vocalist on Sharon Van Etten's second album, Epic. As a solo artist, she has toured with Bert Jansch, James Blackshaw, Micah Smaldone, Sharron Kraus and others.