Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994)

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This adventurous pop Rhode Island trio made something of a critical splash two years earlier with “In the Presence of Greatness,” which Rolling Stone called “the year’s most addictive masterpiece.”

So, here was the prescription for this, the follow up:

— Ditch the former guy-of-the-moment, Matthew Sweet (a personal friend of the band, it was said then). Add underground wunderkind Mitch Easter, perhaps best known as the producer of R.E.M.’s early records — and for one or two good records with his group Let’s Active in the 1980s.

— Rework the next album through the thrilling lense of Easter’s knowing eyes.

It is, in many ways, a superior record to 1992’s “Greatness.”

“Teenage Symphonies” runs the gamut from (the expected) Byrdsy guitar feel to (wow, man) a kind of post/post-punk rave up — ala Television. You find a certain depth in these tunes, and far more range in textures and tempos than before. The guitar sound is quite porous, the drumming crazed but never out of control.

They’ve swallowed whole the music of Big Star, maybe all of the mid-1960s. Yet, it’s not overly derivative. There’s an ageless form to each tune, yet Velvet Crush retains a modern edge. Like their name, most of these tracks manage to be both soft and hard.

A gem worth digging around for.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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