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The Vestals

Songs About Girls...and Other Mysteries

(Warming House Records; US: 12 Sep 2006; UK: Available as import)

Formed by the Minnesotan brother team of Ben and Jeremy Gordon, the songwriting talents of indie poppers the Vestals have come together wonderfully on their sophomore album, Songs About Girls…and Other Mysteries. Both the Gordons sing and play guitar, piano, and organ, and each contributed equally to the penning of these fourteen stately-yet-buzzing pop songs. Bassist Mark Weigel and a pair of drummers keep the tunes bouncing and the breaks tight and punchy. The band’s 2004 self-titled debut suffered from a songwriting duality, wherein brooding and dramatic tracks in the Jeff Buckley mold sat beside Badfingery power-pop numbers. On Songs About Girls, a happy compromise has been struck. Wisely, they played to their strengths, leaning closer to the post-Beatles hooks that made for the best moments on The Vestals, while still retaining just enough of their brooding grandeur to infuse their new material with some emotional resonance and depth. The “nah-nah-nah” chorus of the gorgeous “Nothing” vaults the song up into the pantheon of 2006 guitar pop tracks. That one’s a killer, and the disc is without much filler. This is a solidly crafted album that will hopefully get the Vestals noticed. Fans of Spoon and the Shins, and more classic acts like Big Star, the Raspberries, and the Shoes, should do themselves a favor and check out the very good Songs About Girls…and Other Mysteries.

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Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.


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