Easily one of Chicago’s most energetic acts, both live and in their studio records, Velocicopter has put out their best material to date. I could just end this review right there but you might as well read along as I gush about these 8 songs for a few paragraphs.
The opener “Tongues” would be enough for me to give this EP a positive review. V-Cop’s usual catchy riffs are there with some incredible distorted bass lines in the background. Singer Meg MacDuff’s powerful vocals giving this 8-track EP an immediate urgency from the get-go.
“Galvanizer” gets even more balls to the wall. I get chills when the second verse comes in. The rhythm section cuts out for a few seconds and the line “In a perfect world, keep it glossed over / Mouth full of gravel to hold you over” leads the band back into that all-out driving rock sound they do so well.
The next one has a bit more of finese to it. “Songs From A Mute” has almost a ska rhythm but with a shitload of overdrive. The band breaks away from the power chords a bit in favor of some funkier “7ths”. The guitar riffs still shred and Brett Klein’s bassline is pretty damn groovy.
Guitarist David DuCasse takes the lead vocal on “Tommy Beams Is Thankful To Be Alive” and brings just as much raw power as Meg. The song sounds like it could easily be an unreleased X song (a band that was from Chicago before they formed the band in LA, after all). Maybe the west-coast punk sound was right here in the Midwest all along.
Into the second half of the EP sits “Popolithe”, another riff driven rocker that brilliantly mixes David & Meg’s vocal styles as they trade off verses and sing the choruses together.
“Drag” is probably one of the noisiest tracks on the album. Matt Haywood’s drums are ridiculously hard-hitting but never stray from keeping the fast-driving rhythm. The deadpan delivery of the old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is almost immediately told to fuck off by the next line “but you can drag the dead horse to water and watch it sink”.
Closing out the album is “Major Arcana”. Luckily, the track is more than just a way to win over Role-Playing Gamers. I tend to dislike the fact that most female fronted bands tend to immediately draw a comparison to the Riot Grrl movement from your average reviewer. That being said, this one really does feel like it should be a Kill Rock Stars compilation from the ’90s. It hits a bit harder though, like Bikini Kill meets the Butthole Surfers or something along those lines. It also goes on for almost 8 minutes, which is nearly 3 times as long as every other track on Pals. Every minute of it is worth your time.
You’ll notice I didn’t give away the entire album. If I did, there’d be no reason for you to click that bandcamp link and explore the other half of the EP on your own. Stream it for free but if you like what you hear, pick up the digital download or a limited edition colored cassette for only $5.
Even better, come out to Cole’s Bar Saturday night and catch the band live as part of ElSounds Fest. Festivities start at 4pm and go on all the way until the wee hours of the night. This incredible showcase even spans two venues! Head over to Cafe Mustache across the street at 8pm for even more Chicago and Milwaukee acts.