PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Music

MV + EE: Barn Nova

Prolific purveyors of independently-released psychedelic classic rock return to Ecstatic Peace! with their fourth offering on a bigger stage.


MV & EE

Barn Nova

Label: Ecstatic Peace!
US Release Date: 2009-10-13
UK Release Date: Import
Amazon
iTunes

Barn Nova is something like MV + EE's eightieth collaborative effort if one were to include all of their side projects. Formed sometime in the earlier part of the decade, Matt Valentine and Erika Elder quickly became two of the most prolific rock 'n' roll songwriters to appear on the scene. There is not only the MV + EE discography to consider, but also side bands The Golden Road, The Medicine Show, and The Bummer Road, all of which carry the MV + EE moniker in front. All told, the two collaborators have around fifty releases in the past eight or nine years, which I have to admit is ridiculous. But, this level of output probably works best for them; I would not be surprised if all MV + EE need to get them through the day is sunshine and instruments.

Despite their deep catalog, like many prolific artists of the 21st century underground, MV + EE don't necessarily get their due - I fully admit I've never heard a release of theirs before, though I've heard the name through their Ecstatic Peace! association. But Barn Nova surely sounds like the result of artists that know what they're doing. Boasting Matt Valentine's unique production technique "Spectrasound", in which many sounds swirl around the stereo mix rather than stay cemented in place, Barn Nova is a compellingly dedicated take on the country rock of Grateful Dead or My Morning Jacket. The opening tracks "Feelin' Fire" and "Get Right Church" also display Valentine's Tom Verlaine influence, though his riffs definitely appear to get much rootsier as the album goes along. "Summer Magic", meanwhile, is a mountain of a brooder, taking queues from last year's Black Mountain release and demanding that classic rock retake a place in the modern music conversation.

There is, of course, one other alluring nugget to Barn Nova: who MV + EE are collaborating with. When "Summer Magic" rears its head and the guitar-duel begins to peak around three minutes in, there are surely going to be guitar geeks whose ears begin to perk up at a certain sound. With the help of liners, press kits, or good old intuition, you'd find out that war is waged between EE and J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. fame. Like Dinosaur Jr.'s latest albums, the scent of pure, unadulterated roots rock revival is thick around Barn Nova, and it's a collaboration that pays great dividends. Other collaborators for Barn Nova includes Jeremy Earl of Woods as well as friends Doc Dunn and Mike Smith. Without that information handy the album certainly doesn't sound like a collaborative effort, though, and you've really got to admire its cohesiveness. I also really enjoy the sequencing, the rush of warm air "Wandering Nomad" keeping things light-hearted between the album's two dark centerpieces "Summer Magic" and "Bedroom Eyes".

Along with the use of Valentine's production techniques (that I admit I don't completely hear the uniqueness of), MV + EE are able to conjure up an album that brings to mind exactly what fans of My Morning Jacket's At Dawn might have expected from Z, or a Band of Horses album that does a little more than simply set the mood and run with it. As far as late-catalog introductions to a group go, I'm not sure many bands could do much better than Barn Nova. The album feels dense, but at only 42 minutes is actually blissfully brief, and I think a lot of listeners will find themselves coming back to this record for as long as they long for warm summer evenings on cold winter nights. This type of music has become more and more popular recently with the advent of Jeremy Earl's Woods Family (who have a similar recording style to MV + EE, though not as prolific) and many other lo-fi roots acts, so MV + EE's fourth major-indie label release after a decade of independent, limited release recordings comes at a good time. Albums like this and Dinosaur Jr.'s Farm are invigorating rock from the inside out.

7

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.

Music

Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.

Books

Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.

Music

Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.

Books

Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.

Film

In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.

Music

The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.

Television

The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.