Alternative music reviews

June 6, 2005

Where The Killers Run by Viarosa

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Viarosa are a solemn alt-country act with well-meaning Americana songs about dreams turning sour. Emulating downbeat and world-weary folk-rock giants Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and their ilk, Viarosa make a serious and po-faced collection of similar sounding folk songs which would make an ideal soundtrack to a dark and quiet night. Layered with violins, musical saws and slowly plucked strings, ‘Where The Killers Run’ oozes sinister atmosphere and whisky soaked front porch heartbreak. With two vocalists, the deep-throated drawl of Richard Neuberg combining with Emma Seal’s restful backing vocals, the likes of ‘Blood From A Stone’ and ‘Only Child’ are competent and well-composed without offering anything unexpected to the listener.

The haunting ‘Call To Arms’ is effortless in delivery, Neuberg sounding emotionally involved on the track, with simple arrangements. It’s during the really bleak and straight-forwardly simple songs that Viarosa excel on, as it feels more earnest. In contrast the next track ‘All This Worry (Will Be Over Soon)’ has Emma Seal taking charge of lead vocals for an up-tempo Country jaunt with violins and Bumpkin hew-haws. Not the kind of song I normally enjoy, it nether less is a fine foray into Country music without upsetting my musical taste buds.

Although grand in places, ‘Where The Killers Run’ lacks a sense of humour, strong hooks and ultimately proves exhausting. There are a few gems amongst the endless folk tardiness, the opener ‘Blindfold’ is an archetypal overview, using violin as an integral tool rather than a distraction. The lyrics to ‘Blindfold’ are personal and full of advice, peaking with “if you’re gonna feel disgrace, you better walk out the door”.

It really depends if you like downbeat, similar-sounding folk to really appreciate this album. With the lead instrument often being the violin, it can get tiring to hear the same mood setting over the course of a long-player. But perseverance does pay off in some regards, as the songs start seeping into the subconscious, the music slow and jaded, bitter and eventually depressing. The songs are universally well-performed with enriching production but the lack of a decent melody being the main stumbling block.

To find out more visit http://www.viarosa.co.uk

Review by Nick Collings

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