Music

Venice Is Sinking: Sand & Lines

Sand & Lines is both a statement for Venice Is Sinking as a band and a beautiful document of an important venue in independent American music.


Venice Is Sinking

Sand & Lines

US Release: 2010-06-15
Label: One Percent Press
UK Release: Import
Artist Website
Label Website
Amazon
iTunes

Georgia Theatre, in a lot of ways, is the music scene in Athens, Georgia. It's played host to some of the most important bands to come out of the town -- you know, like R.E.M. or Pylon -- and it sits right there in downtown at the heart of everything going on. So, that place, with all its history and personality, seemed like a perfect venue for a band like Venice Is Sinking to record their atmospheric, gauzy pop music.

The good news is they did just that in May 2008. The bad news is that the Georgia Theatre burned down in June 2009, leaving in its wake a huge gap in the Athens music scene. Sand & Lines is Venice Is Sinking's attempt to help out. All proceeds from this release will be donated to the rebuilding of the Georgia Theatre. The band started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, and with their help, among others, Georgia Theatre is ready to be rebuilt and owner Wil Greene hopes to have it back open by early 2011.

So, in one way, this record is a love song to the Georgia Theatre, and that distinct place does take up room on the record. The band recorded all the material here live at the theatre, and made no edits or overdubs afterwards. What they played on that stage, live with only two microphones, is what you hear on the record. There's no audience, just the band and their songs and the space around them, which gives every song an affecting size. You can feel the notes spreading out and up into every inch of space the theatre holds.

With all that space, aside from paying tribute to the venue, Venice Is Sinking do something else that is pretty impressive. On their albums, particularly last year's AZAR, the band has shown a knack for lush, expansive pop songs that are both immediately melodic and thick with intricate layers. But what sounded like studio polish before turns out to be their organic sound on Sand & Lines. Every bit of atmosphere, every affecting layer is all on display in their playing on this record. They are tight, surely, but the way they stretch out without losing control is something to be admired. Songs like the swaying "Sidelights" or the lilting "Lucky Lady" or the gentle rumbling of "Falls City" all have a uniform echo that ties them together, but each carves out its own emotional feel. And, on top of these tracks, the band delivers pitch-perfect vocals. Dan Lawson and Carolyn Troupe deliver harmonies that are simultaneously strong and vulnerable, and when the whole band comes together to harmonize on "Bardstown Road", it's the highlight of the record.

There are also a handful of covers on the record that the band handles equally well. Galaxie 500's "Tugboat" may seem an obvious fit for Venice Is Sinking's sound, but their version works because it is both true to the original and builds its own brilliant horn-filled crescendo that fills up the whole theatre around them. Their ghostly waltz version of "Jolene" builds a bit slower, but the payoff is just as guileless and triumphant as the one on "Tugboat".

In the face of these great covers, and the quiet energy that drives the first half of the album, the middle does feel like it settles in a bit. With no crowd around, the vocals quiet down and the mid-tempo haze of the songs loses just a slight bit of steam. There's no misstep here, necessarily, but with the band operating alone, there might be a moment in the middle where this feels a bit insular.

However, then songs like "Bardstown Road" and the band's take on "The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don't Want to Get Over You)" end these sessions of a very strong note. Venice Is Sinking are on their game here, and Sand & Lines is a statement for them as a band -- after they'd already proven themselves as songwriters -- and a beautiful document of an important venue in independent American music.

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Television

'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.

Music

Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.

Reviews

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.

Music

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.

Books

Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.

Music

British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.

Music

Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".

Books

In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.

Music

Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.

Film

Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.

Music

Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.

Music

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.

Music

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.

Music

Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.

Television

From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.

Music

The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.

Music

Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.

Music

Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".

Games

On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

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.