January 22, 2009

Test Spin: Vetiver

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Permitting audiophiles scarcely a week to savor 2008’s independent folk revival (Fleet Foxes and Blitzen Trapper each made Rolling Stone’s top 20), Vetiver inaugurated the 2009 campaign with an early release of the band’s fourth LP, Tight Knit. Though the San Francisco band has been laying down rich, layered harmonies drenched in irresistibly precise guitar riffs since their self-titled debut in 2004, Tight Knit is Vetiver’s first team-up with prolific Seattle label Subpop, a move that lets the group develop, master and distribute their tunes on a well-respected indie-music purveyor. This warm and surreal record arises with “Rolling Sea,” as songwriter Andy Cabic weds sweet, ’60s-style tunes reminiscent of George Harrison with the contribution of spontaneous, funky instrumentation of freak folk trailblazer Devendra Banhart. Raving critics highlight “Everyday,” an afternoon stroll of anticipation, longing and nascent love, as a college radio contender. With a crisp, hazily euphoric tempo and an infectiously catchy vocal melody coalescing as the backbone to fundamental love-struck lyrics (“I want to be clear / All I want to hear / Is your voice, and your face to see / How happy that would be for me”), Vetiver triumphs. With a new year just beginning, Tight Knit is a great place to start.