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coverpic flag US - New Jersey - Luna Kafé - Full Moon 16 - 02/11/98

The Van Pelt
Sultans Of Sentiment
Gern Blandsten

The Garden State sure knows how to grow the right plants. Two of my long-time favourites come from New Jersey: first there was the Feelies, and then came Yo La Tengo. Therefore I was pretty excited about checking out a new band from the area. Well, this is a new project, but the members have been hanging around with (and playing with) other bands of the alternative and hard-core scene, such as Blonde Redhead, Greyhouse, Chisel, and Sick Of It All. Right now the foursome answer the name The Van Pelt, and, actually this is their 2nd album. Their debut, Stealing From Our Favorite Thieves, came out one year ago. Since then they've changed their bass-player (Sean P. Greene replaced Toko Yasuda, who became a Blonde Redhead), and - recorded Sultans Of Sentiment.

The Van Pelt have come up with 10 songs, of the quiet noise-pop type. They are not a band writing verse-chorus-verse singsongs. Here are songs of the anarchistic, unpredictable nature, where the lyrics are short stories picked from someone's every day life, or sarcastic comments on the way the society is run. About individuality and democracy. Sometimes pointing a blunt finger to politics and morality. Tales of the ordinary, but told in a way that makes them quite un-ordinary. Musically (or songwritingly) they have been compared to Brit-band the Blue Aeroplanes. Yes, I can agree with that. Imagine the Blue Aeroplanes performing songs written by Sonic Youth, without the sawmill-drone guitar-wall. Vocalist, guitarist Chris Leo chat-sings (he is half singing, half speaking) most of the time, and it fits the music extremely well. And all around the melodies the guitars tickle and purr rather excellently. With the song Yamato (Where People Really Die), musically they almost step into Afghan Whigs territory. Other names that comes to mind are Tom Verlaine, Minutemen, fIREHOSE, and sometimes a quiet, non-aggressive Fugazi, if you know what I mean. But most of all they create their very own structure of songs, with a quite original sound and attitude.

To mention some of the most pleasant moments of this album: Nanzen Kills A Cat, My Bouts With Pouncing, We Are The Heathens, and The Young Alchemists. And the most peculiar song-title has to be: Do The Lovers Still Meet At The Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial. Yes, The Van Pelt has made an extraordinary record.

The Van Pelt, 53 Park Place, Bloomfield, NJ 07003, USA or:
Gern Blandsten Records, PO Box 356, River Edge, NJ 07661, USA

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