Bad Veins are two guys from Cincinnati and a reel-to-reel deck named Irene. They don’t pay much attention to the common curiosity about the origins of their band name, how their lady friend came to be known as Irene nor are they much bothered with buying into what is expected of an indie band trying to make it either (you won’t see them moving to Brooklyn any time soon). And that is perhaps why they may be some of the coolest fellas touring their asses off right now.
But, it isn’t what makes their music so fucking pausing. That is directly related to the great deal of intent and musical intelligence that goes into the creation and presentation of each song.
What started as the solo tinkerings of Ben has now grown to involve the classy presence of Irene and the frenetic talents of Sebastien. Ultimately creating a trio so obvious and wickedly tight they melt away and leave their music to do their talking. Considering they do trend towards the leaner side when compared to the bands consisting of small armies that seem to be so popular right now but their sound, man, their sound is powerful.
Their album was recorded largely in Ben’s home studio where he and Sebastien masterfully built layers of bass, rhythm, loops and even strings then passed them on to Irene. When you listen to their record it is impossible to miss the assortment of elements that are pulled together to achieve their greatness. Some parts are surprisingly simple, like the fuzzed out bass lines on Falling Tide others are unexpected, for example the strings on The Lie. While they aren't members of the every album needs to read as a whole camp the entirety of their debut album shares a thread of epic potential that ties it together nicely. They reach for realms most small groups wouldn't even begin to fathom and not only do they achieve a thoroughly developed sound but they stretch their skills over enough territory that you are left wanting more, much, much more.
Seeing them live is one way to scratch that "more" itch and I'm happy to say the same amount of musical smarts go into their live show. Both Sebastien and Ben recognize the importance of putting on an entertaining live show. To Sebastien this means giving the audience plenty to watch and move to for Ben it means blowing them away with compact and constantly engaging sets. They create quite the homey little set up on stage drum kit to the left, bunches of homemade noise makers to the right and Irene holding court in the middle. It looks like an arrangement devised by the Cohen brothers especially when the buys take the stage in their military button downs.
The amount of sound they blew through the speakers on Wednesday night was astonishing. It was probably a good thing they keep their sets on the shorter side because it was a lot to take in. Sebastien is a whir of energy which plays nicely with Ben's emotional delivery. Both are clearly investing a great deal of themselves in their performances and it creates yet another layer to their sound. The vocals are moody and sincere and the presence of the live drummer are what keep the electronic components from becoming static. This is an act that doesn't really need improvement yet I have a feeling will present itself in a number of different forms as the group continues to play and experiment.
For all of you who missed Wednesday's show you're lucky. Bad Veins will be returning to Philly's North Star Bar on September 20th. For the rest of you non Philly readers. They are going to be all over these United States over the next few months so be sure to check out their tour schedule.
Be sure to get their album but here is a nibble for your needs
Gold & Warm