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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Echoreview: Venice is Sinking's Sand & Lines

Anyone following Athens band Venice is Sinking's musical endeavors over the past few years knew they were in for a treat the moment the group stepped back into the recording studio. These new songs have been tiptoeing onto the band's setlists for a while, and now we finally have a chance to have them for our very own! And indeed, after last summer's tragic loss of the Georgia Theatre, it was more than just fitting that Venice is Sinking's latest album Sand & Lines, recorded in that beloved theatre, was released one summer later. So how does this much-anticipated album sound?

Well, before any of the music starts, you can hear the band members clearing their throats and warming up which gives this record a live sort of feel that pervades the entire album. Immediately following this moment, the band quietly launches into their first tune, Sidelights. Singer Daniel Lawson's voice comes through clearly as he sings backed by singer Karolyn Troupe and alternatively supplemented by instruments and silence. This track is a lonely but beautiful beginning.

Just after Sidelights fades, one of my longtime favorites, their cover of Galaxie 500's Tugboat, comes to life. I fell in love with Venice is Sinking's live version of this song months ago, and the recorded version completely does it justice. The tune's fulfilling finish was incredibly satisfying, complementing the track perfectly. A theme for the shy or the antisocial, I've always adored the lyrics to this song as well. "I don't wanna go to your party, I don't wanna talk to your friends"... Don't we all feel this way sometimes? Great choice of song!

Jolene is the first song to break away from the softer sound of the others and add a bit of an edge. Harmonies rule this tune as it takes on a roots-style touch. Then the drums drive this melody home in quite a powerful manner. Following this, the Grey Line brings an eerie feeling to the album. The vocals on this one are deliciously haunting and purely breathtaking. Add this one to my list of favorites as well!

Lucky Lady breezes in next, softer and slower than all the rest. This song seems like less of a dynamic tune than the others, but it marks a true return to the live, indie feel of the album. Indeed, the band even ends this track with a murmured conversation as if the members were right there in front of you, recording these songs. This transition leads straight into the marvelously dark Falls City. This organ-like melody partnered with a beat that has me ready to dance every time makes this yet another favorite of mine. I'm telling you, this album is full of them!

Venice is Sinking's next song, Pebble Hill, is a short but sweet tune with a very pop-sounding flair. Starting almost silently, it winds quickly into rolling adventure of lyrics and sound. Soon after, Bound by Violets begins. With the many instruments peppering this song, it could have very well sounded like a mess of noise, but the band succeeds in bringing it to a cohesive and quietly exciting mix instead.

As the album nears its end, the lovely sound of jingle bells ushers in the song Bardstown Road. Vocals reign supreme on this track with the repetition of a line that speaks of waiting and of bars closing. I can attest from their live shows that this is truly a perfect concluding melody for a night of music. Then, as the track approaches its finish, the entire band joins together to sing this this line and surround the listener with its power.

Venice is Sinking completes the album with The Wurlizer Prize, a short song whose line "I don't want to get over you" seems to be the proper send off for the soft but sweet melodies of Sand & Lines. While not quite as upbeat as their last album AZAR, this record's quiet beauty and enchanting tunes leave the listener purely relaxed and content. You can nab yourself a copy of this lovely album right here on the band's site. Happy listening!

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