Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band – ‘Prehistory’ EP

Showcasing a memorable rock sound with a knack for climactic, textured build-ups, the Prehistory EP is the latest from Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band. The act was signed to Dead Oceans and active there from 2009 to 2012, and they went on an extended hiatus thereafter. Singer and writer Benjamin Verdoes re-formed the project recently, and Prehistory represents their newest output.

The EP — which is released on Jenny Invert Records — was tracked live, and recorded at the Unknown in Anacortes, Seattle. A compelling rock sound resonates therein, emphasizing the band’s strong songwriting, and the work of drumming phenom Marshall Verdoes in particular.

A debonair rock mystique takes hold on the opening “Best Bet.” Lyrical depictions of becoming lost in one’s fears resonate with chilling qualities, particularly as a ghostly heightening stirs at mid-point into trickling guitar lonesomeness — and then a blast of climactic distortion. “Best Bet” kicks off the EP in high-quality form.

“The Day” follows with a lusher bounciness, assuming a compelling vocal quiver that admits “I love you more every hour, I do,” with a Jeff Buckley-esque quality. While “Best Bet” is exemplary of the band’s tonal range, “The Day” emphasizes stellar vocal-driven dynamics. “Hollywood,” meanwhile, embraces the climactic mold — traversing seamlessly from haunting folk into rollicking rock goodness.

A brisker guitar-forward entrancement shows on “We Won’t Change,” which incorporates an understated vocal immersion throughout the verses into the hooky title-touting proclamation. The streams of trickling guitars and steady lead shift into a bass-heavy segment with quainter contemplation, ascending into a soaring vocal captivation alongside feverish guitar ascending that reminds of Radiohead. “Warm Body” comes next, presenting a hypnotic folk delight. The Prehistory EP is consistently strong throughout, from its anthemic rock stirring to quainter lushness.

Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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