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Melody Freaks

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Album Review

Velvet Crush is a great American rock & roll band. They combine loud and ringing guitars, crashing drums, and gruff-yet-sweet vocals to really put some power into power pop. The subtitle of this record is "A Collection of Demos and Outtakes 1990-1996" and it covers a very productive and exciting time in the band's career. The tracks break down as follows: seven demos from the band's masterpiece, Teenage Symphonies to God, two demos from Free Expression, and demo versions of both sides of their debut 7", "If Not True"/"One Thing Two Believe." The rest are outtakes, many of which are from the Heavy Changes sessions. The sound is pretty raw and live but also very similar to the finished versions that appear on the albums. The songs sound more rock than pop as the band rips through some of their best songs, like the sweet "Time Wraps Around You" and the charging "My Blank Pages." The outtakes sound as good as anything that made it on the Heavy Changes record, a highlight being their cover of fellow Midwestern band Three Hour Tour's "Be Someone Tonight." Someone new to the band should first check out their original records before getting Melody Freaks, but die-hard Velvet Crush fans will love this album. They may wonder why the band didn't include any information about the origins of the tracks; it seems a rather large oversight to leave off that kind of annotation on a disc that claims to be a historical release. Still, the music is what matters most — and the music here is first-rate.


Formed: 1989 in Rhode Island

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A classic power-pop band in the tradition of the Raspberries and Big Star, Velvet Crush formed in Rhode Island in 1989, although their roots actually extended west to Champaign, Illinois, where vocalist/bassist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck first met and began performing together. There Menck founded his own small label, Picture Book, on which he and Chastain recorded solo material as well as singles under various group names like the Springfields, Choo Choo Train, the Paint Set and Bag O'Shells....
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