Redeye Label, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/12/2012
While I don't want to get into any chest pounding about superior musical regions, it's pretty hard to deny that Minneapolis (my hometown) has produced consistently great music for several decades now. Legends like Soul Asylum and Husker Du made the Twin Cities the epicenter for stunning guitar rock, while lesser-known but equally exceptional outfits like Babes In Toyland or Dillinger Four kept the gritty, punk spirit alive and firmly embedded in the city.
What you don't often hear from the area is a band like Lucy Michelle And The Velvet Lapelles. A quintet who make exceptional use of less conventional instruments like accordions, ukuleles, cellos, and a stand-up bass, this is not your typical Minneapolis rock band by any stretch of the imagination.
The band doesn’t stop with the anomalies there. Heat was actually penned during the winter of 2010, when temperatures fell well below zero degrees for weeks at a time and just going outdoors became a slow torture. Despite being penned when the entire city was covered in snow, there is a lot of warmth in these tracks musically. Lyrically, it largely discusses feeling of isolation or longing to be elsewhere or with someone else. Lucy Michelle often reveals her pensiveness in her work.
Primarily an indie-folk assembly, with the vast instruments present and different textures here, it's probably more accurate to narrow it down further into psych-folk rock. Disc opener “Just A Kid” works with a country rock template, complete with feedback and surreal undertones. It's the ideal way to the foundation for this disc – soulful and creative yet playful. “Million Done” showcases Lucy Michelle's inimitable voice well, and is easily one of the album highlights. The track illustrates how well these musicians can work together and assemble their respective talents into one timeless, memorable tune. Though most of the disc is on the softer side scale with aching melodies and gentle atmospheres, a track like “West” wouldn't be out of place on 120 Minutes circa 1992.
Lucy Michelle And The Velvet Lapelles is now four albums into their career. With their songwriting skills sharpened even further, this is a band who deserve a listen from anyone with an ear for unconventional music with a back porch, rustic feel.