Into The Burlesque
Vaudeville lead singer and guitarist Donnie Graves definitely wears his influences – both musical and non-musical – on his sleeve. Heck, they are even readily apparent from his CD’s sleeve. The Athens three piece has a quality that is straight out of the novel Something Wicked This Way Comes or a Tim Burton film.
It’s not just the eerie darkness that envelops the musical sounds on the disc, it’s also the whole circus carnival atmosphere that surrounds the band’s image, name, and lyrics, as well. Of course, it makes some sense, considering Graves’ love of Harry Houdini, circuses, and vaudeville acts.
This is theme music for a sideshow at a roadside carnival visited in the dead of night. Some songs like “Into The Burlesque” and “Snake Handler” belie the circus atmosphere, while others like “Hole” (with the line “there’s a hole in the ground for me”) and “Bleak Little Savant” give a creepy edge simply from their titles alone.
Musically, Vaudeville share the center ring with the likes of Sixteen Horsepower and Tom Waits. Graves’ vocals are rough-hewn enough to sand wood, yet surprisingly don’t come across as overly abrasive.
The first song on the album has a hypnotic bass line and upbeat feel that co-opts an indie-rock catchiness to it. From there, Vaudeville winds through a slower landscape that uses bits of dialogue, odd sounds and screeches, and spells of quiet and loud. It’s at time effective and at times annoying, but always inky in nature. Some of the highlights include “Snake Handler,” “Hole,” and “Sinner/Saint.” Perfect Pitch Records, 250 Little Street, Suite 305, Athens, GA 30605