As a born and bred Rhode Islander, I tend to follow musicians and bands from the state. Velvet Crush, from Providence, came into being during the late 1980’s. Bassist/vocalist Paul Chastain and drummer Ric Menck had played together previously and with a succession of guitarists, have been the core members of the band ever since, except for a two year hiatus.
The band was a regular on the indie circuit during the 1990’s and reached its peak with the 1994 release of their second album Teenage Symphonies To God. Now they have issued an album exploring their roots. Pre-Teen Symphonies contains eight demos from the era and a blazing eight song live performance from 1994.
Six of the eight demo tracks are taken from the Teenage Symphonies To God project. They present early incarnations of “Blank Pages,” “Hold Me Up,” “Time Wraps Around You,” “This Life is Killing Me,” “Star Trip,” and “Weird Summer.” The problem with demos is that while they are interesting to fans and provide a nice history, the finished tracks are usually superior and readily available.
The core of this release is the eight song live set, which was recorded at the Cabaret Metro in 1995, where they opened for the Jesus and Mary Chain. The sound of the three person core group is enhanced by the addition of guitarist/vocalist Tommy Keene. The set revolves around material from their first two albums. What were just presented as demos now return as finished songs. “Blank Pages,” “Hold Me Up,” “Time Wraps Around You,” and “This Life is Killing Me” explode from the speakers and cements their legacy of a 1990’s Indie favorite.
Pre-Teen Symphonies is essentially two separate albums which form a nice document of the band. The demos are historical, while the live set is essential.