OnlineRock Blog

18 May 2011

The Vespertines EP and Live Review Combo Platter

By Tim Rosini

We here at OnlineRock have a secret, which from this point forth becomes kind of redundant because we're going to tell you in detail what that secret is, and how cool it sounds. When we tell this secret we are going to ask you, the reader, to do the exact opposite of what one would normally do after revealing a secret. Tell everybody. This secret, which, isn’t really a secret in the first place, but more of a fact, won’t be kept for long - so here is our factual secret for you… prog/jazz rock group, the Vespertines are really awesome.

We’re guessing you want to know why? Don’t worry, we’ve done our homework and can back-up our claims. Hailing out of the Long Beach music scene, the Vespertines consist of lead vocalist/trumpeter Vanessa Acosta, lead guitarist Alex Kater, bassist Kyle Cavaness,and drummer Chris Walker. They have been honing their skills recently touring, recording and playing shows in their local scene in Long Beach. Their debut EP, Gravity Optional, consists of four scintillating tracks that are just snack sized samples of the musical flavored feast the Vespertines are cooking up to unleash on the world.

Having listened to their EP, and having had the great pleasure of seeing a live show performed in their own backyard at The Blue Café in downtown Long Beach, we are eagerly anticipating the next musical step from this talented foursome.

A combination of jazz, funk, and progressive rock, the Vespertines have created an energetic blast of sound that will keep the listener guessing and anticipating with glee the next note, change in tempo or explosion of frenetic harmonies that remind this reviewer of bands like The Mars Volta, a faster paced Circa Survive (with a chick lead singer), or a jazzier, more experimental version of Incubus (again this recipe calls for a sexy female lead singer).

Their four song EP clocks in at almost 25 minutes and includes blistering solos, soulful heartfelt lyrics, and a bass/percussion section that fits so snugly together you’d swear it was the eight

armed God Shiva providing the beats and grooves. The very first song “Lepers and Leopards” provides a soulful and silky intro from all members, coming together with a head and hip swaying groove as Acosta shows off her powerful yet silkily vulnerable voice. You won't get lost in the groove for too long with the Vespertines - they are a tricksy bunch. Just when you think you have found a nice cruising altitude they flip the hypersonic switch and unleash a fury of changes and blasts of progressive funk that will confuse the body about whether it should be dancing around the room or head banging to the grooves.

Having the chance to see a Vespertines show, we were able to see how each musician fit into the musical puzzle. One can tell the time and effort put into creating this type of musical landscape. For all the changes and twisting crescendoes, each member seemed perfectly comfortable in their own world on stage. Acosta swayed and strutted around the stage chiming in with her jazzy siren-like voice, mesmerizing the appreciative crowd into a hypnotic state. Cavaness and Walker kept the pulsating and complex rhythm steady as ever, allowing Kater to explore the fret board like Alice in Wonderland, and make no mistake with their EP, one can get lost even within this four list set. "Pendulum" is an eight minute binge of melodic changes slowly harmonizing and then exploding into separate atmospheres, painting a vivid musical picture, especially given the limited landscape of the aforementioned four song track list.

“Collapsible Spheres” showcases the Vespertines ability to groove as well as Acosta’s talent on jazz trumpet. Overall, as we said, this is only the beginning for the Vespertines. Through a very valid source we at Onlinerock.com hear they are recording right now (check out their website). So hopefully, a full length debut will be forthcoming from this up and coming group. For those of you who don’t know about the Vespertines, their EP is available to download on their webpage, along with listings for upcoming shows in the Southern California area.

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