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The Veil

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The Portland quintet's second album shows that Echo Helstrom have a gentle enough knack for moody rock & roll with string accompaniment — this latter thanks to violinist Alessandra Dinu, whose performances give The Veil an extra undertow throughout and notably on the more acoustic-focused songs, such as the first half of the title track and especially on the album's high point, a lovely cover of a Radiohead rarity, "True Love Waits." It's definitely the band's ace in the hole, given that the performances otherwise are steady-as-she-goes post-college/alternative rock — imagining the band as being on an R.E.M.-headlined bill from 1986 really isn't that hard, for better or worse. Bandleader Ross Seligman has a pleasant enough voice that's good for softer crooning more than hard rock growling, and wisely aims his performances in the direction that favors him most (if not all) of the time, while the other bandmembers do a fine enough job performing his and Dinu's songs. Yet apart from the Radiohead cover, tellingly enough, nothing really leaps out on The Veil — there's little akin to the powerful kick of the best songs on, say, the Black Watch's underrated early masterpiece Flowering, where a similar sonic inclination, including excellent violin work matched with a rock band performance, resulted in something truly special. Sometimes sweet, sometimes moody, sometimes louder, and sometimes quieter, The Veil might also in the end simply be neutral and straightforward in a musical landscape favoring extremity on all fronts, a pleasant experience rather than a commanding one.

The Veil, Echo Helstrom
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