There’s all sorts of strange information revolving around the release of Vox Vermillion’s third album, Standing Still You Move Forward. For one, it was slated to be the debut release (only to be bumped to second) for the new label, Women Records. It’s hard enough to switch from DIY to a label, harder still for that label to be a fledgling company, even harder than that when the label heads are Slug and Murs, two hip-hop mavens not particularly known for their associations with indie rock. Vox Vermillion hold up to the pressure well with a strong album.
By definition, Vox Vermillion means ‘bright red voice.’ You can see why they stuck with the Latin/English hybrid. Kelsey Crawford is that `bright red voice’ and she lives up to the name nicely. Crawford is the result of what would happen if That Dog spent way too much time listening to the Velvet Underground and Camper Van Beethoven. It’s not a rocking voice by any means. There’s no screaming, screeching, or hoarseness. But then again it’s not altogether overly feminine either. Crawford has a voice like a young tomboy, girlish in quality, but with deep intonations.
Maybe it’s the cello that makes me think of That Dog, Camper Van Beethoven and the Magnetic Fields. The way that Emily Dantuma plays the cello here is far creepier, however, than any of the above listed bands who play it as pastiche, pop, and operatic respectively. Songs like “Up In It” have a droning bassline that plods along while Crawford and Dantuma take you on a swampy tour that never speeds up or gets any brighter. On the other hand, “Controller” starts to swell with an early Blondie punk feel, poppy and rebellious. With similar sounding keyboards and bass throughout every song, it recalls elements of Suicide’s first album. I bring that comparison up because I feel the same way about both albums. They’re brilliant, true, but you can’t listen to them too many times in a row for fear of damaging yourself or others.
Minneapolis still seems to be producing good music and Vox Vermillion proves the rule. If there’s one thing that Slug and Murs can be clapped on the back for, it’s for opening up hip-hop minds to punk and alternative/indie rock. Slug’s group Atmosphere is bringing Vox on tour. Boy, won’t those kids be surprised!
That Dog- That Dog
Cat Power- You Are Free