Sunday, November 01, 2009

More on Deas Vail



I've been a huge fan of Deas Vail since discovering them nearly 2 years ago. The best way to describe them would be this: indie pop-infused rock with soaring and haunting melodies sung by one of the best vocalists in rock. Having seen them three times in concert, I can say that they're far better live than most bands are in the studio with the benefit of editing, autotune, etc.



As of October 27, their new album "Birds and Cages" is available on Amazon, or Itunes, or through their new record label Mono vs. Stereo (for only $7.00!).

I have to admit, even as much as I loved their first album "All The Houses Look the Same," I was a little bit nervous last year when they announced that they were recording both a 5-song EP ("White Lights") and a full-length album, all at the same time. I wondered if maybe they would be stretched too thin.

Boy was I ever wrong. To my ears, it's one of the best albums I've ever bought, let alone in 2009. If anything, they've taken their music to a new level. Wes Blaylock (the lead singer) is just as jaw-dropping with his soaring vocal pyrotechnics, and his wife Laura (keyboardist) is featured more often in some quite lovely vocal duos. Andy Moore (guitar) is constantly pushing the envelope with different sounds and effects. Kelsey Harelson's drumming rarely just keeps a steady beat; instead, he manages, in song after song, to use the offbeats in a way that propels the music forward and gives it a sense of mission and urgency. Finally, Justin Froning's energetic bass playing rounds out the band nicely.

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The tunes are just as full of earworms (i.e., melodic hooks that you can't get out of your head) as ever, but the music is often adventurous and arresting. "Sunlight" has a progressive rock sound that is hard to place in a single key, and the verses are in 7/8 time. The intro to "The Great Physician" has a really nice chord progression that is far different from your traditional I-IV-V. The verses in "Atlantis" are in 5/4 time. "Puzzles and Pieces" is just beautiful -- I could easily hear this song featured in one of the many television shows that run out the clock by playing a poignant song while the various characters look pensive.



As another reviewer put it, "Deas Vail is one of the few bands who can take pop/rock music and force the listener to apply 'beautiful' to it as an adjective." If that sounds appealing to you, "Birds and Cages" should be the first thing you purchase.

11 Comments:

Blogger james said...

Stuart,

Thanks for writing about Deas Vail -- on the strength of your review I ordered Birds and Cages and we're loving it.

a blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

9:46 AM  
Blogger John Mark said...

In case you wondered why they made an EP a few months before going to record it's because the label Brave New World was in the process of dying and they needed enough money to record the full album. Unfortunately though they were ready to release it a year ago they had to sit on it for a year until their friends in reliant k signed them to the newly revived label Mono vs Stereo. Essentially upon signing they handed them the complete album and it was rushed to release by the end of the month. Keep supporting them, they need all the help they can get. They should be doing a few shows in December with switchfoot, who called them up and asked them to go on tour with them. They're a great bunch of people, support great music!

11:04 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Amen to all of that. If they don't hit it big after playing with Mae, Switchfoot, and Owl City, that will destroy any faith I have in the music industry and in the ability of audiences to appreciate top-notch music.

As for support, I helped get them an interview with an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette music writer, who plans to publish a feature on them sometime in the next few weeks. I also sent "Puzzles and Pieces" to a friend of a friend who is a credited writer on the show "Fringe," in the hopes that the song will be used sometime. So I've done what little I can. :)

12:55 PM  
Blogger John Mark said...

Talked to Andy at thanksgiving, the Switchfoot invitation to tour came from a rather interesting occurrance, they were scheduled to do a show at a venue and the venue cancelled their show because switchfoot wanted to book a show that night, they asked their tour manager to see if he could book another show or something. As it turned out their tour manager and switchfoots tour manager were friends and he was able to get the lineup changed so deas vail could open for switchfoot. The two bands hit it off pretty well backstage at the show, about 4 days ago they got a call out of the blue from switchfoot and were invited to tour 7-8 shows in December starting the 3rd. The band can't wait, it's about time. God is really blessing them right now. I'm glad to hear you're helping out the band, they need all the support they can get, things seem to be lining up for them to really take off right now. The new album is absolutely amazing, kudos to Mark Lee Townsend for the job he did producing the album.

12:43 AM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

That's great about Switchfoot! Agreed about the new album . . . I like it even more after listening to it non-stop for the past 3 weeks.

Hey, just curious, you sound like someone who is related to the band somehow?

3:23 PM  
Blogger John Mark said...

Last February Andy Moore married my cousin, Christie Moore. They had been dating over 4 years so he was already like family before he even proposed.

10:05 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Andy is a great guy; he's a "friend" on Facebook; I've seen the band three times now, and somehow I always end up hanging out and chatting with Andy afterwards (probably because I play guitar myself).

10:26 PM  
Blogger John Mark said...

Well, if you ever notice, the rest of the band is usually cleaning up their stuff and get it ready to take out to the trailer, andy's job is packing the trailer, so he's usually got some time to spare after the show to talk to people until 30 minutes before they leave.
I'll give you a little "easter egg" as one might call it. They were supposed to sign to gotee records, but reliant k switched to another label and were put in charge of mono vs stereo, which was a dead alternative label owned by their new label. Check the back of your new album, birds and cages, and read that fine print between the mono vs stereo graphic and the FBI anti piracy warning.... Yeah...

9:05 AM  
Blogger John Mark said...

As a point of note though, mono vs stereo is technically a "project done in partnership with goatee and reliant k", which though that's kind of an odd way of wording it, that's the words used by them.

9:16 AM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Oh sure, I wasn't meaning to imply that the other band members aren't also friendly and willing to chat (I've chatted with Laura and Wes several times too, just not as long).

10:48 AM  
Blogger Deas Vail said...

Hey there, this is Andy from DV. I wanted to clear up the Switchfoot tour discussion. We were talking with them about the tour, but were waiting for confirmation over Thanksgiving. However, the confirmation didn't come. It was an honor to be considered by them for such an outing, and even more of an honor to play with them in Nashville. It was great meeting them and they were a big encouragement to us. Sorry for the misunderstanding though. Maybe in the future! :)

5:48 PM  

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