Viva Voce – Get Yr Blood Sucked Out

Viva Voce
Get Yr Blood Sucked Out

I’ve never been a fan of guitar solos. I’ve never been much into 70’s rock, either, given that aversion. So I was not expecting too much when I popped in Viva Voce’s Get Yr Blood Sucked Out and got to the second cut, “When Planets Collide.” I figured that with all of the new New Wave acts hitting the scene over the past few years, maybe bands like Viva Voce, The Black Angels, and Dead Meadow were intent on looking back a little further to find their influences.

It turns out that Viva Voce puts a lot less stoner into what could’ve been another stoner-rock release. Some of the songs have a real pop sensibility, actually, and could probably be construed as radio-friendly. It doesn’t hurt that Anita Robinson has a really nice voice. “Drown Them Out,” a largely acoustic number, makes me think of songs by Miranda Lee Richards or Mazzy Star. On tracks where the tone tends to be much more raucous and forceful, it’s husband Kevin Robinson handling the vocals – “From the Devil Himself” being a prime example, as well as it featuring the line that became the name of the album. And yes, this husband-and-wife team does most everything itself, with a little help from a few contributors.

“We Do Not Fuck Around,” despite its title and Mr. Robinson’s vocals, quietly expresses a narrative of impending homicide and revenge over top of piano-like keyboards (for the first half, anyway). It builds up a little as the guitars come in and the chorus (repeated intonations of the title) gets going, but it ends much as it begins. It’s odd to hear lines like “I swore to myself, long ago / That I wouldn’t rest / Till their heads were on my desk” sung so matter-of-factly over gentle keyboards. At this point in the album, about half done, the band has already covered quite a bit of ground: stoner-type rock, almost-gentle ballading, pop-leaning confessional.

The second half of Get Yr Blood Sucked Out reworks these same areas, with consistently accomplished results. Particularly beautiful is “Special Thing.” A really simple song, its strength lies in its hope and honesty. It seems to be as much a celebration of the power of music as it is the power of human connection, with lines like “When notes create the source / They cause a driving force / And the sound that you explore / Through the wires on the floor.” That pretty well captures it.

Somehow sounding like something that might have closed a Styx album, “Never Be Like Yesterday” again builds itself around choppy keyboard chords and 70s-sounding guitar lines, but this time the guitar lines are drawn-out single notes interspersed with little arpeggiated interludes. The album was recorded and produced by the band, and the production has much to do with the feel of the record. It deftly captures a sound that goes back in time a few decades without losing its modern sensibility. “Helicopter” has its Alan Parsons Project space keyboards but they don’t date the sound as much as inform it, because once the psychedelic guitars come in you hear Mazzy Star again. In fact, by the end of the album, you’re likely to forget that the band band has been tagged as stoner rock, because there’s a lot more than that going on here.