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Green Velvet

Green Velvet

(F-111; US: 25 Apr 2000)

Picture the guy you know in high school who was always trying really hard to be seen as weird, and you have Green Velvet. He’s the guy with a bright yellow mohawk always ranting about alien abductions in a phony voice. The one difference here is he has killer dance beats to back him up.


Green Velvet is from Chicago, yet this self-titled CD is his first U.S. release. Some of the singles have already been popular in the club scene, and I can understand why. This is great dance music, and I imagine it’d be absolutely glorious to hear over a gigantic sound system in a dance club. It’s fairly straightforward house music, but nearly every track has the perfect groove to it. The music is really percussive, with rhythms that are always shifting, but in a subtle way, not the all-over-the-place chaos musicians often use to attract attention.


While the music is a pleasure, for some reason Green Velvet still feels the need to wave wildly at listeners to get their attention. He does this through the vocals, which are present about 70% of the time. Green Velvet has one of the most whiny, annoying voices I’ve ever heard. I find this CD really hard to listen to, and that says a lot considering how good the music is. If there were an instrumental version of this album, it’d be in heavy rotation on my stereo for sure. This would be wonderful music if he didn’t keep getting in his own way.


And it’s not just because of his voice. The lyrics are the worst sort of “hey, look at me!” silliness. On the first track, he leads parents through a rave in his best faux Vincent Price, spooky-guy voice, pointing out children doing drugs, drinking alcohol they snuck in, etc. The next track is a series of increasingly worse fake answering messages, from a girlfriend dumping Velvet to his landlord evicting him, all interrupted by the chorus “I don’t need this shit!” It’s supposed to be funny, I suppose, but even if it’s slightly amusing on one listen, it’s downright grating after more. And the CD keeps on like that until the end, including Velvet being a stalker, describing his alien abduction, singing vague social commentary in a Prince Be-style voice, and rambling about how he’d like to come back as a water molecule after he dies.


“Water Molecule” is the most telling track here, as far as Green Velvet’s state of mind is concerned. After blabbering for six minutes about how great it’d be to be a water molecule because of all the cool things he could do, he gets to the punchline: “But what if when we die we all become water molecules?....I think I want to be a rock.” If everyone else is a water molecule, he wants to be a rock. The best advice I have for Green Velvet is something he should have learned from afterschool specials years ago: Instead of trying so hard to be noticed, why not just be yourself?

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine ErasingClouds.com, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.


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