Last month I wrote of the Digital Disco compilation that “The problem with this kind of music, or at least my problem with a lot of it, is that most of the “artists” should be producing other people who are better able to move me, either physically or emotionally.” Well, Venus Hum is the kind of other people I was talking about. If I were them I’d be calling Astrobal or Swayzak from that collection, for example, to do the extended dance remix of my next single.
Vocalist Annette Strean and her band mates Tony Miracle and Kip Kubin, Venus Hum, are the newest generation in a line that includes Yaz and Electronic. Strean’s voice colors the songs with airy warmth, adding the breath of humanity to Miracle and Kubin’s (both credited simply with computers and electronics) material. In turn, their comforting constructs of synthetic sounds (when it comes to alliteration, in for a penny, in for a pound, I always say) score her emotional vocals like Burt Bacharach.
Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, the band has toured successfully overseas and gained acclaim from Q Magazine, NME (and, cough cough, yours truly in a review that ran on PopMatters over a year before the UK discovered them… I’m just saying is all). Their best songs, like “Alice” here or “Montana” on their 2001 self-titled indie debut, are ingenuous, beautiful and light. Venus Hum is a band I could easily come to love, if I haven’t already. In a better world, they would be packing the dancefloors and Justin Timberlake would be laboring in obscurity or as Michael Jackson’s personal assistant.
This EP is a teaser for the group’s forthcoming major-label debut, and consists of three rerecordings of material from their first record and one new song.
The original “Hummingbirds” was held down by a generic backing track. The version here has been successfully reworked, adding among other things, a more lucid sequenced bassline. This wins the “most improved” award. On the other hand, “Run Annie Run” is the least noticeably changed, and “Illumine” falls somewhere in-between. The new computer sounds by no means ruin one of their most definitive songs, but I still prefer the original’s more rubbery-textured feel.
The trio’s name comes from a rare medical condition Miracle has that allows him to hear the pulse from his jugular vein in his ear. Which may or may not have been the inspiration for the throbbing drum sound on the aforementioned “Alice,” but it certainly sounds like it. This makes what is otherwise a delightful song slightly harder to enjoy.
The well-regarded songwriter Neil Finn once defined pop music as “simple, elegant melodies over interesting chords,” and that’s what turns up on Hummingbirds.
Venus Hum: http://www.venushum.com