From: Seattle, Washington
Story: From One Brother to Another Brother: the Gift of Rock
Sound: Dueling guitar lickery
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band may not be your catchiest rock'n'roll moniker --no one's mistaking it for The Strokes or Black Flag-- but its five words stand for a Seattle band whose five members keep it close to home. Flanking frontman Benjamin Verdoes are, amongst others, his wife, Traci Eggleston, on keyboards, and his 13-year-old brother, Marshall, on drums. MSHVB, in fact, came into being as a form of fraternal encouragement. When Marshall took up the drums as an 11-year-old, Benjamin promised him that when he got good enough, they'd start a band together. And sure enough, by 2008, the two Verdoes bros had themselves a Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band.
Of course, if said Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band kind of sucked, that cute back-story would be an end. Instead, it's a beginning. On their debut, self-titled set --issued on the Secretly Canadian-related Dead Oceans imprint-- the Seattle quintet show themselves as a dynamic rock outfit, lead by the duelling lead-guitar licks of Benjamin Verdoes and fellow six-string slinger Matthew Dammer.
As Verdoes and Dammer play off each other, their nimble-fingered riffin' recalls guitar heroes from Thin Lizzy to King Crimson, Television to Pavement, with hints of the sprawling fretboard workouts of psychedelic Dead Oceans label-mates Citay. Yet they're not guitar-nerds, either: sharp, shouty pop-songs like "Anchors Dropped" and "Dull Reason" sparkling with the kind of effervescent indie klang that'll appeal to fans of bands like Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade.
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March 22: Tucson, AZ - Plush
March 23: Los Angeles, CA - Troubador
March 24: San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Shop
March 26: Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
March 27: Provo, UT - Velour
March 28: Denver, CO - Hi-Dive
March 29: Lawrence, KS - Jackpot Saloon
March 30: St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway
March 31: Chicago, IL - Subterranean
April 1: Grantham, PA - Messiah College
April 2: Northhampton, MA - Iron Horse Music Hall
April 3: Cambridge, MA - Middle East Downstairs
April 4: Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg
April 5: New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
April 7: Pittsburgh, PA - Brillobox
April 8: Bloomington, IN - Bear's Place
April 9: Urbana, IL - Courtyard Cafe at University of Illinois
April 11: Madison, WI - Der Rathskeller
April 12: Minneapolis, MN - 7th St. Entry
April 13: Fargo, ND - The Aquarium
April 15: Missoula, MT - The Bandlander
April 16: Spokane, WA - Emyrean Coffee House
April 18: Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge
May 23: Quincy, WAS - Sasquatch Music Festival
Photo © [Steven Dewall]