Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
It's that time of the year for spring cleaning, for tidying up the yard and the home and getting everything in order for the hot weather and for entertaining - BBQs and slip and slides. The lawn chairs are hosed off and the horseshoes are dug out from somewhere deep in the outdoor shed, next to the hoe and the lawnmower. The garage, which has been housing the spare refrigerator filled with sodas, the still muddy golf and football cleats and a squadron of bicycles with modestly deflated tires, is somewhat of a focus. It's been filling up with junk - boxes from the holidays and anything else that needs to be tossed. For Minneapolis band Velvet Davenport, the garage would contain a different kind of clutter. All of this spring cleaning would take on a different meaning as the group's essentially been living out of their garage, theoretically, all winter long, as well as many seasons prior to it. The refuse and messiness would be crushed beer cans and smashed bottles, a stray pair of boxer shorts, all kinds of tawdry miscellany, dirty dishes, guitar picks, cables, half of a gear graveyard and noisemakers, but the oil stains and hedge clippers would remain out of sight and out of mind. There would be a considerable number of cigarette butts to deal with and rolling papers would be intermixed with old plastic baseball helmets that ice cream used to be served in at the local Tastee Freeze, not to mention sticks and strings. There would be a litter of all of this stuff, torn magazines and alt weeklies covering the third-hand area rugs covering the concrete floor. But this is the band's casa, a point of familiarity, where its sunny psychedelia comes home and usually stays in to roost.
Velvet Davenport makes the kind of lovelorn and smitten stoner rock and roll that groups of boys make when they've nothing better to do and they've chosen instruments and artistic creativity as the way they'd like to fill their time. It all has a feeling of breezy sloppiness in the way that Buddy Holly, had he lived another 10 years and gotten through the Woodstock era, would have started sounding like, stopping everyone in their tracks and making them applaud his new direction and reinvention. The band's newest cassette tape "Lemon Drop Square Box," and even more particularly, the song, "Bonnie Brooks," from the band's forthcoming full-length record, are full of sounds that get smattered together over the course of warm months that are gone lickety split, torn out of the margins and left for smoke. It's fun and mostly unserious, exploring crushes and moon dances, with trippy lyrics quoting the sun: "If I was the sun, I'd tell everyone, "Close your eyes," and treating a potential fling with other-worldly sweetness, "Do I need to sing more gently to your heavenly ear?" It's "Donna" sped up and told through the haze of narcotics, not root beers and sundaes.