I DO love bowties.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
Dead Oceans, 2009

It’s hard to stick out when you’re an Indie rock band from the Northwest. The complacent normalcy of Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s self-titled album is not what’s yanked them out of obscurity and into the Seattle spotlight, it’s their back-story that’s turned up more interest.

Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band had a story before a song and a public service announcement before they had an album. Last summer they released a series of absurd PSAs about Homeostasis and Technology advertising a July 31st show at Seattle bar Neumos. They’re still available on YouTube and are dopily charming and silly, unlike their standard-fare album.

Like many a band of relatives (both the blood kin and the marketing hoax variety) Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band are a motley crew composed of a 14-year-old drummer (Marshall Verdoes), his adoptive brother and lead singer Benjamin Verdoes, Benjamin’s wife Traci Eggleston-Verdoes and the two beardy men relegated to backdrop.

MSHVB have got the pedigree going for them (Scott Cobern of Arcade Fire and Animal Collective has a stake in them) and the right alignment of humor and talent; the Seattle Times raved about their ‘homespun’ jokes mixed with ‘elegance.’ But something falls short where the tambourine and keyboard loops melt into one ‘samey’ sonic mush.

Even though groundbreaking music may not be the name of the game for MSHVB, we will probably hear lots more from them. After all, “the family that plays together stays together.”

Sophia Al-Maria
March 25, 2009

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