February 13, 2013

Dana Swimmer: Veloce

This Is American Music

dana swimmer.jpg

Dana Swimmer's Veloce is a guilty pleasure, a writhing mess of soulful, lo-fi rock meant for a sweaty living room of spilled beer and close quarters. It has a smell, and you can barely hear the pre-song banter over the guy yelling loudly to his friend: “Where’d Michelle go?”

It’s a product of immediacy, a Southern-infused kick of straightforward guitar riffage that bounces along with cymbal-heavy drums into wordless hooks of oohs and ahhs. But the honesty of the snarling vocals that threaten to blow the PA with every outburst is tempered by surprisingly attentive songcraft and production.

It’s surprising to see the rough and raucous bar fights on Veloce clock in over five minutes, and just as surprising to see how well each track fares as it winds on, thanks to a disguised caution that works behind the scenes, toeing the line between brash, spontaneous surges of creativity and overwrought experimentation. A vigilant watch breaks up the repetitive verse/chorus structure into methodically arranged bridges and controlled dynamics and brings “I’m Still Your Man” from its gentle acoustic opening to distorted howls of passion courtesy of lead singer Jack Blauvelt. (The same good intentions also lead to the somewhat unconvincing interludes that dot the album.)

Overall, it’s a mature sound that garnishes the headbanging exuberance with a little something to hold on to, a reason to keep coming back to Veloce even after the party is over.