Vuvuzela is a New York based band that warms my black heart. They rose from the ashes of a chaotic indie band I adored called Kiss Kiss and thankfully retain the weirdness that the former band carried.
Over a year ago I contributed my first $10 to a fund-raising effort on KickStarter. This project was the attempt to fund the recording of Vuvuzela’s EP, “The Hollow Choir.” The band succeeded and in the time since then, I bugged the hell out of the band about the recording and kept an eye on their progress. I was often given vague responses which made it almost frustrating to read things like “Recording percussion today for our almost finished album! Cabasa, Guiro and Vibraphone Oh My!” and ” One of the most unfulfilling things you can do is record an entire album, listen to it 30x in your car, and then not release it for months!!” on the band’s twitter over that year. I wanted to hear whatever this beautiful monster was going to be as time went on, so being so secretive certainly helped to build hype and excitement in me.
When I finally got the album and gave it a listen, my head exploded. It was everything I wanted from a follow-up to Kiss Kiss.
It does retain several elements that are very Kiss Kiss. There are soaring keyboard interludes, awkward piano chords, and the vocal stylings of Josh Benash (former Kiss Kiss vocalist). Also, Ben Goldstein provides some chaotic drumming that harks to the glory of Kiss Kiss, which is strange because he wasn’t a Kiss Kiss member.
The new elements that Vuvuzela brings to the table are numerous though. First off, they have a harp player named Stephanie Babirak, whom also contributes a wonderful vocal contrast to Benash. Her playing is a prominent part of the band’s music and it’s so easy to be fixated on her. When she is playing a subtle line it becomes hypnotic and when she is playing something technical it is unbelievably fascinating. James O’Keeffe also adds a unique element with his upright bass playing. I am a huge fan of an upright bass. The slides and scales just sound more interesting. The band probably would have been fine with a standard electric bass, but the fact that they use an upright makes them that much more awesome.
The final product of this unique musical collective is what the band calls, “Victorian Music Box meets Carnival” and “Chamber Music for The Aching Rockstar.” Both descriptions are surprisingly fitting, considering how much most bands miss the boat describing their sound. I would call it a score to the best nightmare that you’ve ever had. It is eerie, kind of insane, yet very catchy and melodic.
My favorite tracks on the EP are the bipolar “Rings and Things” (which can be heard below), the very Kiss Kiss-esque “Like A Lion” and the beautiful yet somber opening track “Out Ghosts.”
I highly recommend getting this EP. Fans of Kiss Kiss will love the the band, and those who are unfamiliar with Josh’s prior work should check out this band, simply because they are so different. I cannot think of a single band that would make me go, “Vuvuzela sounds like ____,” except for maybe Kiss Kiss, and I love the band for this. My only complaint might be that it is over too soon. They have turned me into a rabid fan of their music, and I simply want more.
In short, they have a harp and you don’t. Listen to Vuvuzela!
This is one of my favorite relases of 2012.