A weekly peek into what makes the Knoxville music scene phenomenal. We’ll be bringing you album + concert reviews from the Knoxville area and interviews with local musicians + people behind the scenes.
Vertigo produces a sound that is difficult to define. That’s not a bad thing; it’s actually a plus. Over the years the band has grown in their sonic range. With The Coming and the Going, the band adds dense layers of noise and texture that separate them from most local rock bands. That said, the core is still firmly rooted in a strong, rhythmic rock base. The aforementioned layered textures are a nice addition. Their previous album, …and Miles to Go Before We Sleep, showed glimpses and peeks of the step forward that they actually take with The Coming and the Going.
This progression is not wholly surprising. The band is filled, front-to-back and side-to-side, with people at the top of their game. Lindsey Stamey is a premier vocalist with the ability to bounce between singing beautifully to screeching incoherently. Sometimes it’s the subtle nuance of her vocal performance that takes a song from two-and-a-half stars to a four-star completed effort. But that’s not a slight, in the least, to the music that she sings along to.
Her brother, Justin Stamey, provides very strong, dense [in a good way] drumming that is quite literally a sight to see. He furiously pounds on the skins in total isolation and with complete clarity. To put it crudely, he’s a helluva drummer.
Concurrently, Nathan Engels continually supplies a well-engineered bass line that stays to the back of the classroom until it’s time for him to step forward, stepping up to the front, and shredding through the progression of all around him.
Which leaves us with Joel Rudnick on guitar. Rudnick is a tremendous guitar player, a fact that all too often is not fully appreciated. Sometimes that’s of his own volition, providing textures and pure sonic noise to the track as opposed to giant, stadium-like guitar solos. In fitting with Vertigo’s overall sound, this is a perfect match and the crux behind every song that truly stands out.
The song “Wraith” is a stand out for the way it builds into the chorus. The music seems to be teetering on the precipice, only to explode once the chorus goes into full measure, which is a nice touch.
Why “Ethelle” is not a radio hit I haven’t the foggiest. Beginning to end, it has that certain drive that would fit perfectly on UTK or The X. Plus, the lyrics are really well-crafted.
“Techne” showcases Nathan’s ability to step up to the forefront while still interspersing Joel’s light touches throughout. Nice jingly tune with a good mixture of old and new school techniques.
The title track is a nice departure, somewhat, like the song “Melatonin” is on …and Miles to Go Before We Sleep. It’s also a good example of the use of layers on this album. Lindsey’s vocals waft over the music almost as just another instrument.
The only detraction, which is one I’ve held onto from the early days, is that I’d like to see the speed and voracity that the band has the ability to produce be laid down on a studio album. Vertigo has the talent to go faster; I just wish they’d let it all hang out and go for it on a few tracks. But that’s just me… and may not count for much considering I own a plethora of Dire Straits albums.
Photo by Travis Stevens, courtesy of the band’s MySpace page.