Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band, 'Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band' (Dead Oceans)

Critical Mass
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by David Marchese

As befits a mixed-race, -gender, and -generation band, this Seattle quintet never settles for the status quo. Bluesy single-note guitar lines compete with jagged chording, the bass thumps out counter-melodies, strained yelping dissolves into pastoral harmony. Yet it all coheres thanks to frontman Benjamin Verdoes' pop instincts and the band's jittery energy. For now, the music is ahead of the ho-hum lovelorn lyrics, and some tracks are fussy rather than fiery, but check the scattershot seven-minute closer, "On the Collar," to hear how Mt. St. Helens explodes expectations.

Listen: "Anchors Dropped"

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