Missoula’s Vera is one of those bands whose sound hits me square in the gut--unexpected, seemingly out of nowhere, and absolutely welcome. They were a band I’d heard about for a while, but any number of glowing compliments bestowed upon them did not prepare me for how engaged I would be by Vera’s actual music. In what is perhaps a failed attempt to avoid hyperbole, I am--ahem--quite partial to bands like Vera--bands who imagine the 20th century pop-rock spectrum in fluid terms, you know, kind of like a big ol’ weird, drippy finger painting. This is, I think, the way most music should be approached: a demented but necessary burst of creative force using as many colors as possible.
And it’s not that Vera’s music sounds childish or naive-- it’s way too precise for that. It is, however, exuberant and youthful as all get out. Never seeming slapdash or chaotic, there are so many WTF twists and turns in Vera’s songs that a strange internal logic begins to formulate about midway through a live set: it gets easier to see how one might draw a line from the glammed-up choogle of Slade to the icy harmonies of The Ronettes; the odd, chromatic music-hall of The Kinks (at their most sonically-sarcastic) starts to sound like a natural compliment to The Pixies (at their most bombastically earnest); it’s the sunny pop of The Go-Go’s as played by Wire. Yeah, these unlikely combinations might cause a bit of cognitive dissonance for the suspicious reader, but that’s the mark of a great band: where others see conflict, Vera sees connection.
Like too many excellent local bands, Vera’s live show has progressed beyond where their discography leaves off. It’s not that their old stuff is shabby by any means, but if my descriptions above leave you scratching your chin, it’s because I’m responding to the tunes employed in their current setlist. To put it another way: the new stuff is, like, totally next level, man. I know that is really unfair of me, but it’s also all the more reason to catch them at Total Fest this year. In the immortal musing of LeVar Burton, don’t take my word for it (but in all seriousness, do take my word for it).
Listen to Vera here.