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Vir - Gillespie (Vibraphone)

Vir - Gillespie (Vibraphone)
17 January 2011

This CD came with a friendly, hand-written stickie from frontman Sam Sloane , whom I’ve not met, describing his group’s music as “post-punk, shoegaze from the SF Bay Area.” Given my warm feelings for his region’s many contributions to late ‘80s/early ‘90s dreampop, largely, sadly unknown to the general public (e.g. Belladonna, Orange, Rosemarys, the early Brian Jonestown, etc.), that’s enough to give his trio’s second LP Gillespie a spin in quiet curiosity. But it does not in fact tap into that dangled legacy. What it does offer, actually, is a recollection on how influential U2 were after 1983’s War , especially circa The Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree . Blindfolded, I’d not be certain that Mr. Sloane was not in fact the former Paul Hewson (to his Irish parents and his childhood friends), AKA Bono Vox, so much does he sing and sound like him. (Talk about your aural doppleganger.) And it doesn’t’ stop there; his guitar playing clearly also holds David Evans (ditto, that’s The Edge to you) in similar aural stalking. Fortunately, as copies go, Sloane is an advanced axe-man, and drummer Jeff Paul and bassist Natasha Arens are of a similar ability. So calling them an ‘80s-U2 tribute band—performing originals instead of covers—is not the distasteful disaster it usually is (and recall, that on their earliest, naïve singles, U2 themselves borrowed as wholesale from their prickly punk predecessors, Scotland’s The Skids). The raw matter is there if Vir can find a way to find their own way, tacking away from bald-faced replication (as the Edge himself did when he added Public Image’s Keith Levine’s weird, effects-encrusted atonal shimmer to his early mimic of The Skids’ Stuart Adamson’s spiky punk chording). A band that plays this well should be able to manage this requisite step if they can recognize its necessity. Otherwise, they’d need to pick a more obscure band to so nakedly impersonate next time. (


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