There are many of my peers within the community of music critics as it stands on the international front that will tell you rock music as a genre has splintered beyond recognition, with its best performers not even allowing for the labeling to act as a primary term of description. Velodrone know this, and after listening to their self-titled debut album, I don’t think they’re a fan of the theory – at least as it relates to the purely unclean sounds of post-grunge and hard alternative that they’re becoming known for this fall.
Yes, you can and should call Velodrone a throwback group; they’re not hiding it in their first LP, as instead of preserving history with the way they unfurl the metallic gusts of “Voyeur,” “Sleepwalking” and “Wysiwyg,” they actually use it as a template through which they can shatter the rulebook like a thin gloss coffee table under steel boots. This is not the time to be a concerts-only kind of music fan, and if you haven’t heard this record yet, I think listening to its punishingly live-like audio quality is going to have a really big impact on you going into this new fall season.
For being a heavy rock record, Velodrone’s first album has a number of strong vocal harmonies in “Reality,” “Love Race,” “Together” and even “Harvest Moon” and “Sleepwalking.” The chemistry between all of the players always feels really natural no matter which of the ten songs we’re listening to, and because it’s a little over a half-hour long (instead of coming closer to a full eighty minutes), nothing feels rushed or insurgently connective to such a degree where cherry-picking from the tracklist would feel like a betrayal of the group’s artistic value. One thing I can say is that there isn’t a lot of catharsis to be found in this LP, but instead a tension that ebbs and flows along with the lyrics until finally disappearing with the music into the silence from which each composition is initially pushed. I don’t believe the point of this album was to make us optimistic or reflective on any elements within our own lives – this is too personal and frankly too remarkably contextual for it to be so predictable.
Though saturated in enough grime to make a lot of people think we’re slowly slipping back into 1991 instead of 2021, Velodrone’s Velodrone is a provocative debut that I will be listening to again before the year is over just to ensure that I’ve witnessed all of its angles come together in some way or another. The rock genre might be having a lot of critical debate in and around its most exciting and recent releases, but if this band has anything to do with it, I don’t believe the core values always held so dearly among those who make rock n’ roll music from one generation to the next will be going anywhere anytime soon. That’s something to root for, and thus, this is a record I recommend you listen to immediately.
by Bethany Page