Those Vermont hippies MV & EE (Matt Valentine and Erika Elder), are back, and it sounds like they have added some new records to their collection. The Grateful Dead influence has always been right upfront. It is no mistake that their most consistent touring band is called The Golden Road. With their latest Barn Nova on the Ecstatic Peace! label, MV & EE seem to be channeling some of the finer aspects of early seventies Neil Young as well.
The Young factor is undoubtedly fueled by the involvement of guitar wizard J Mascis. Nowhere is this more pronounced than on the scorching “Summer Magic.” Like most of the album, the track was recorded live in the studio, with Mascis’ patented brand of distortion alternates with Elder’s clean leads for an extraordinary combination.
Fittingly, Barn Nova is designed like a good old fashioned LP. The back cover of the CD even lists the songs on side A and side B. This attention to sequencing makes the disc flow in a very logical manner. Barn Nova opens with the Dead-ish “Feelin’ Fine,” and closes with the gentle instrumental “You Feel.” The six tunes in between are a wildly mixed variety.
Besides “Summer Magic,” the songs “Wandering Nomad,” and “Trapperhead,” both display some marked Neil damage, in the best possible way. If professional weirdo Beck had ever jammed with the Dead, they might have come up with something like “Get Right Church.”
It is the eleven minute “Bedroom Eyes” that commands the most attention though. The song is a virtual guitar workshop, and another live in the studio monster jam. There is no “might” about it, this song gets good and loud. It is everything an aspiring guitar hero needs to hear.
For all of the various influences MV & EE have absorbed, the album is anything but derivative. I use the comparisons for clarification only. But if you are a fan of any of the bands mentioned, I definitely recommend checking out Barn Nova.