DEMO REVIEW + EXCLUSIVE: Violet Machine
Violet Machine, a recently-formed indie rock quartet from Brooklyn makes music that inspires nostalgia for the early 00s. You remember, that one year Interpol hit the scene and provided NYC’s newest batch of millennial transplants with a soundtrack that, for most of us, will never ever lose its meaning or cease to make our hearts pound when we hear it? Many bands tried to follow in their footsteps; tried to scale those same illustrious heights the New York darlings managed to conquer within a matter of years, thanks to two momentous albums.
Most failed miserably at the task of building on the foundation Interpol laid, because their specific brand of drawling, brash, stripped-down indie rock just sounds derivative at best unless every musician in the band can deliver on the underlying conceit of the songs they’re writing. And this requires more talent than most possess. Subsequently, the tunes often fall flat, so to speak.
Violet Machine emerged onto the Brooklyn indie circuit early this year, and within a few months, breathed life into, and provided direction for a genre that had lost its way over the last decade. In essence, they are achieving what so many before them failed to. Their demo comes out next week, and promises everything we’ve been missing: the perfect balance of instrumental complexity and gripping, affected vocals that capture the attention of the listener and transport them into another world of city lights, heartbreak, longing…all those motifs that most artists seek inspiration from, but can never really in turn, transform into sources of inspiration unto themselves.
The first track off their demo, “Starlight”, begins with what could be construed as a formulaic, gritty and textured minor chord progression underpinned by catchy drums. Until that is, the vocals come in, soaring and tinged with retro hues, and hook you. The instrumentation is suddenly lent depth and dimension that wasn’t apparent before and the song itself as a whole begins to expand and appropriate space in the room, leaving one eager for the next verse. Though the melody is reminiscent of those written by so many before it, from shoegaze trailblazers like The Pixies to the resident bad boys of The Strokes, there’s something refreshing about lead singer Rob Majors’ voice. Most likely, it’s that you know it reflects how he actually sounds, as there’s very little post-production tinkering to the songs. However, there’s also an ineffable quality to it, that can best be described as simultaneously relateable and otherworldly.
“So Close The Birds”, their second track, begins with an ominous guitar line executed with Flamenco stylings that leave one wishing for snare drum or at least fuller percussive dimensions –perhaps the one element I would surmise this composition lacks. Majors’ vocals come in after a few bars though, and jolt the listener back to some memory of a times passed, not too distant a memory that it feels illusory, but distant enough to jar the nerves. Once again, the strength of the songs lie in their capacity to capture and expand on music that already happened, of which there wasn’t nearly enough.
“On The Take” also begins with an iconic guitar melody (definitely sensing a signature style emerging), that provides a foundation for the rest of the song, which is perhaps slower-paced, and more soothing than the prior two tracks due to its washed vocals that blend in with the guitar and bass for most of the song. It sounds almost as if you’re hearing through the receiver of a telephone, melodic and lyrical intimations that can feel placating and exciting alike.
Violet Machine has a long trajectory ahead of them, especially given the fact they are retrieving a genre of music that got seemingly kicked to the curb years ago. Their demo gives us a narrow glimpse into what they are capable of musically, and what lies ahead for them creatively. We got our hands on an exclusive release of the first track off the mix, “Starlight”, so you can see for yourselves.