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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

(the) Vels - Velocity

Name: (the) Vels
Album: Velocity
Year: 1984
Style: Radio Pop, New Wave
Similar Bands: Bananarama, Bangles, Debbie Gibson, Phases, Taylor Dayne, Thompson Twins.
Based Out Of: Philly, PA
Label: Mercury, PolyGram Records
 Velocity - Cover, Record
Velocity - Back, Record
Velocity (1984)
  1. Tell Me Something 5:08
  2. Secret Garden 3:30
  3. Can't You Hear Me? 4:14
  4. Coming Attractions 6:16/
  5. Look My Way 2:06
  6. Day After Day 5:58
  7. Private World 4:55
  8. Hieroglyphics 6:36
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
Alice DeSoto (Cohen) - Vox, Keys, Percussion (Die Monster Die,
Charles Hanson - Bass, Keys, Vox, Percussion, Guitar (The Normals, Loudspeaker, Chrome Cranks, The Gravy)
Chris Larkin - Keys, Vocals, Linn Drums, Percussion (Kenn Kweder, Mikey Wild, Joey Wilson)
Chuck Sabo - Additional Percussion (Tom Dickie & Desires, Dani, David Knopfler, Ettiene Daho)
Sanford Ponder - Fairlight Programming
Steven Stanley - Producer, Engineer
Benjamin Armbrister - Asst Engineer
Peter Lubin - Producer, A&R
Jeff Levy - Asst Recording
Bruce Tergensen - Engineer
Mark Procopio - Asst Engineer
Howie Weinberg - Mastering
Manhattan Design - Design
Frank Olinsky - Illustration
Deborah Feingold - Photography
Bill Levy - Art Direction
Chris Evans - Management

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this band, but I'm not too sure of what to make of the album. The colors are bright, pastels, a negative point for an album from 1984. But I do like the slight diagonal font, and the cartoon imagery of the band does not take itself too serious. Don't think it will be too new wave, punky, but hoping for some fun bouncy beats and Go-Go's similarities.

Album Review: The Vels were a mid-80’s synth pop band that toured around the Philadelphia are a bit. They had 2 albums total, and even scored an opening spot for the Psych Furs in 86. Sadly Chris Larkin passed away from pneumonia complications in 2007.

“Tell Me Something” kicks in with an electronic drum loop, and squeaky clean female vocals. This is radio friendly pop from the early 80’s. It is dancey and pure, bright, sparkling synth pop. Even the Phantom Of the Opera style synth notes have a chipper tone.
“Secret Garden” begins with sparkling and swirling- and very dated electronic synth. It is made up of major elements of teen-pop, with a slight mystical element. This feels like it could be remixed into a descent club hit, like Stevie B.
“Can't You Hear Me?” brings back a dance hit track, with digital bass and squeaky, shimmering synth. The vocal melody follows the music, but is buoyant and bobbing. The verse has male vocals, predominately, and the female vocals are added in the chorus. This head nodding, happy melody song is somewhat catchy, reminding me a little of Dogs Die In Hot Cars.
“Coming Attractions” features jazzy bass, followed by the shimmering and echoing synth. It has a little of a tropical feel, which might have been imported from their recording surroundings, as it was recorded in the Bahamas. This song lacks any kind of drive: it is just happy moving along at an uninfluenced pace. The male vocals support the lead during the chorus. The song does not evolve too much, just relying on the slow Caribbean drum beat, and synth loops.  

“Look My Way” was the single. It starts with a church organ synth played at short notes. A vibrating pulse is added, and the drum loop comes in. And then male vocals come in, and the whole song takes on a Thompson Twins sound. But it quickly becomes clear that the style of the song is meant to be disco, even bring in a Debbie Harry Rap section.
“Day After Day” swirls in with a churchy organ matched with a bouncy piano. The vocal melody rolls along, with an uplifting, positive spirit. The bridge is an building 4 note hook that repeats on itself. The vocals feel like they are trying to be like the Go-Go’s. But the overall tone is very clinical and nonthreatening.
“Private World” employs a bunch of synth effects that make the backing music sound automated, like a crazy contraption or video game. The beat is steady, and maybe a little anxious. The vocal melody could inspire an arm waving clap along. The instrumental breakdown uses both a middle-eastern melody on top of synth African wood block/bongos. This is not a bad song, but it just needs to be a little more challenging.
“Hieroglyphics” ends the album with a slow drum machine loop, and synth steel drum keys. If this song were produced today, with less shtick, and shortened to highlight the basic melody (particularly in the chorus), it would be a pretty good song, but it gets lost on the dated production of the time. This song too has a bit of a rap in the middle

Stand Out Track: Can't You Hear Me?

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