Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Vatican Cellars - The Same Crooked Worm (Where It's At Is Where You Are)

When listening to The Vatican Cellars, you can’t help but appreciate the legacy that eponymous acts such as Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley have left us. Artists such as they have proven to us that sound of acoustic guitar accompanied by a fantastic blend of different voices can perpetuate such a wonderful sound. Although this band might not be on the tip of the tongue of the cultured connoisseurs of this genre, you should definitely not overlook them. Listening to the Vatican Cellars gives you a very humbling feeling that there are acts out there full of talent and musicianship.

Their début album ‘The Same Crooked Worm’ is a beautiful showcase for this bands talent. It all kicks off with the title track of the same name which acts as the classic introduction to what we are going to be in store for and gives the band a chance to flex their numerable musical skill and vocal prowess. I am a great lover and very much appreciate bands that have more than one voice in the mix and especially desire those acts that have a balance of male and female voice; in this endeavour, The Vatican Cellars certainly do not disappoint.

The album waltzes on with the quaint ‘End of the line’ which is a classic soft melody with the dances through as daintily as it can. But what is that I hear? A Melodica being utilised in the background? The introduction of this instrument gets my thumbs up for intuitiveness alone. ‘The Wreck of Alba’ is certainly theatrical. You can almost place it belonging in a musical or even a cult film such as the timeless Wicker Man (I mean the original version and not the horrific abomination starring Nicholas Cage).

My Black Pearl’ takes on the form of an American country blues track and adds another string to this band’s already well structured bow as they prove that they can pull it off with consummate ease. ‘Nothing Special’ and ‘It’s Not Like Anybody Gets Hurt’ certainly typify the band’s self proclaimed influence and nuance. You get the feeling that there is a dwelling on the darker shades of life, mainly death. It must be a subject that is certainly considered at length by the band. However, this does not make the tracks sound morbid, the group manage to put their quintessential slant on the subject and make it very listenable.

Christmas Island’ changes tack musically somewhat as the drums play out an infectious little shuffle as this song seems to have the structure of being one that can be memorised and sung along to and is one of my favourites from this album. ‘Silence And Shadows’ definitely does have the tinge of ‘Death Cab For Cutie’ about it but still retains that vital originality and intensity which I believe will make this band one to look out for, for the future.

Your Bitter Pains’, which is the bands choice for their single from the album, is definitely the best choice they could have made as it is one of the strongest. Listening to it, I cannot help but think about the musicality of my namesakes Barclay James Harvest as this sort of folk rock is like a page of the page book. As pretentious as that makes me sound, this is the best way to describe how this band have resonated to me.

The penultimate track ‘Old Books’ carries on the funny charm that we were introduced to earlier on the album and the introduction the glockenspiel give it that extra edge of attraction and appeal.

The Same Crooked Worms’ ends with ‘Lullaby’ which is only what I can describe as the ending to some obscure television programme which adds to the intrigue of the album and definitely leaves you wanting more. I am left with wanting to see more from The Vatican Cellars, and I don’t want to be disappointed.

Words : Barclay Quarton

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