By Brady Smith
Vonnegut is dead – the band name, that is. Denver’s popular modern rock group Vonnegut is now known as Take to the Oars: A change evoking impressions of the ever evolving, always experimental qualities of the writer for whom the band was originally named. The new moniker redefines the band; re-christening it as one that has the courage to define themselves within the rock genre with their new release, American Volume.
The album signals where it’s headed with its first track, “Answers.” The straightforward baseline and balanced melody of guitars build with the song and support the chorus nicely. While their defining sound peaks in “Stones & Sticks” and “Vanishing Act,” “The Cast Off” is a nice intro into “S&S,” and the accordion adds a bold sound that draws the tone of this song in a powerful and ominous direction.
Viewing the album by songs doesn’t give the full picture of what American Volume really provides, however. This band has been able to establish itself as a piece of modern rock artistry, but that doesn’t mean that it’s done growing. Some of the songs fall into similar patterns; using breakdowns, breaks, building intensity and occasionally dropping everything to a dull murmur, only leaving the vocals to seep in. This formulaic repetition effectively diminishes the novelty of the album.
But, given this, I think that their new namesake gives them confidence: When a critic critiques, ‘take to the oars’ and bring more of your best.
By Brady Smith