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MV & EE with the Golden Road - Gettin' Gone

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Artist: MV & EE with the Golden Road

Album: Gettin' Gone

Label: Ecstatic Peace!

Review date: Nov. 8, 2007

Matt Valentine and Erika Elder have spent the past handful of years following their sweet muse from a base deep in the southern Vermont hills. Hungrily absorbing blues, roots and folk, the duo – with or without the aid of a revolving cast of fellow musicologist burners – have released a crate-load of sounds. These CDs, LPs and CD-Rs, often released in editions of 99 copies on the band’s Child of Microtones imprint, find Valentine and Elder spinning out their psychedelically-enhanced visions of American traditionalism.

Last year, MV & EE hooked up with The Bummer Road for Green Blues, an Ecstatic Peace! release that found the band tightening some of their more esoteric jams – and turning up the electric guitars. In place of the “lunar blues” showcased on earlier releases, the group coughed up a hydroponic classic rock sound that blurred nettle-stung guitar riffery and deep space grooves into a sound that, somehow, managed to bridge Royal Trux and Canned Heat – and make it sound cool.

Gettin’ Gone follows its predecessor’s path towards concision. Strutting right out of the gate, “Susquehanna (sole art trample)” is pure amphetamined rock ’n’ roll; an opening shout-out to both Vermont (“I’m coming home to you / for sugar on show babe”) and the rock excess of “diggin’ ludes, bull & booze and pills.” MV’s amps buzz with tonal overload and the band – this time marked The Golden Road – are hot at his heels.

“The Burden” turns the tables, settling into languid, summer evening haziness. Plucked acoustics and pedal steel frame MV and EE’s harmonized vocals before Valentine uncorks an oversaturated lead that leaves the song in singed tatters. “Hammer” is the heaviest cut here; an eight-minute death blues dirge featuring Sunburned Hand of the Man’s Ron Schneiderman and John Maloney on bass and drums, respectively.

The group rip into Crazy Horse territory on “Mama My” and “Speed Queen.” There have been pitterings that Gettin’ Gone is weakened by it’s overly exhibited Neil Young-isms, and while this is ultimately a lazy accusation, it is true that when the band gets rollin’, the ghost of the Horse clearly hovers in the room. On “Mama My,” the band launches into a terrific gallop with chopping guitar that will instantly perk the ears of anyone well acquainted with Rust Never Sleeps. Likewise, MV’s lead vocals – further forward in the mix than on previous recordings – have an undoubtedly nasal, Young-ish twang.

“Speed Queen” is a barnstorming rocker with Doc Dunn’s pedal steel slinking between the lines of MV’s fisty lead. “Stay with me / on the side of WaWa / we can make out where you stand” MV sings, conjuring images of bored suburban teens hanging out ‘n’ getting wasted under the neon hum of a local convenience store. It’s a sly cheep-beer-drunk Northeastern punk subversion of the song’s classic rock sound.

Yet, for the most part, MV and EE stick to the rural and the heavily stoned. On “Easy Livin’,” MV sings “look down at Orion and that sky / the space grass is goin’ fast / and therefore is getting’ gone… easy livin’ / under pieces of the sky,” while EE, Willie Lane and Doc Dunn shoot spirals of electric guitar into the thick of the night.

Ultimately, Gettin’ Gone’s greatest achievement is that it’s a ’70s record that couldn’t have been made 30 years ago, needing instead the nourishment of decades of fellow travellers’ tunes. It’s an adult rock ’n’ roll record about getting high, finding love, playing music and living the country life. As Valentine sings on “Country Fried,” “not country fried / or just getting’ by… mainly getting’ used to / diggin’ this thing / that we’re all in.”

Amen, brother.

By Ethan Covey

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