Vermont Joy Parade, New Anthem | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Vermont Joy Parade, New Anthem 

Album Review

Published May 16, 2012 at 8:49 a.m.


(Self-released, CD, digital download)

On their 2010 debut, Kicking Sawdust, the Vermont Joy Parade introduced audiences to the lowbrow, high-art concept of “suspender fusion.” It was a terrific album that ably distilled the band’s legendarily unpredictable, energetic, Vaudeville-esque live show into recorded form. That’s no mean feat. On their latest album, New Anthem, the VJP suffer no sophomore slump, displaying a notable evolution of style and substance and once again delivering a record that is a worthy complement to their live act.

As on the debut outing, songwriting duties are shared on New Anthem. Though well matched and balanced, the differences in style among the band’s six songwriters were generally evident on Kicking Sawdust. Not so much here. Whether by design or simply as the result of the musicians growing together over the past two years, each of the album’s 15 tracks seems an inextricable piece of a larger, more cohesive whole. And while there is no shortage of uproarious, old-timey shake and stomp, a focused and, dare I say, modern feel nudges up against the band’s signature timelessness in both songwriting and arrangements.

In particular, the performances of Anna Pardenik, whose banshee wail is equal parts Natalie Merchant and Neko Case, stand out for … not standing out. On the ballad “Don’t Tell My Poor Mama,” she spins a heart-wrenching tale of wanderlust and insecurity. But it perfectly sets up Ben Strosberg’s lusty banjo- and accordion-driven rover, “Devil’s Eyes.” And that in turn equally frames Devin Robinson’s riotous “My Gun.”

Some credit for the record’s cohesion likely belongs with recording engineer and producer Ryan Power. But New Anthem isn’t just a product of well-tweaked knobs and faders; the arrangements and instrumental performances are efficient and artful. Though you wouldn’t call the record restrained, it feels like VJP did rein in its often-unwieldy, misfit charm just a bit. That choice places the songs, rather than individual performances, at the forefront. The songs have room to breathe and, collectively, make up one of the best local albums in recent memory.

The Vermont Joy Parade play a string of local shows this week, including On the Rise Bakery in Richmond on Wednesday, May 16; Nutty Steph’s in Middlesex on Thursday, May 17; Radio Bean in Burlington on Friday, May 18; and Parker Pie Co. in West Glover on Saturday, May 19.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

More By This Author

About The Author

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles

Dan Bolles is Seven Days' assistant arts editor and also edits What's Good, the annual city guide to Burlington. He has received numerous state, regional and national awards for his coverage of the arts, music, sports and culture. He loves dogs, dark beer and the Boston Red Sox.


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Latest in Album Review

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2022 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation