Velveteen - Home Waters (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Home Waters (2007)

Kuddly Koala

German indie rock band Velveteen received a ton of press when blogger Jerome Holeyman leaked what the public thought to be Death Cab for Cutie's new album, Narrow Stairs, earlier this year. It was actually Velveteen's 2007 full-length, Home Waters, but Charlatantric's prank worked because Velveteen carry enough similarities to make such a joke believable.

Here's the thing: Home Waters itself, regardless of the devastating parallels to Death Cab, is a really, really good album.

One of the deciding factors is vocalist Carsten Scheauff, whose hushed voice is often a dead ringer for Ben Gibbard's, perhaps circa Something About Airplanes or The Photo Album. Besides that, his lyrics also employ the occasional scene with picturesque reality. In lo-fi opener "Prologue: Plastic Cups," he softly narrates: "I held your hair while you threw up / and dragged you down the stairs. / And outside we cracked plastic cups / and I drank from your can."

Musically, Velveteen are treading similar ground as well, but one can certainly see elements of Built to Spill or Appleseed Cast -- after all, Velveteen seem to be masters here at pairing plaintive vocals with sparkling backgrounds. Everything is understated, even when they lightly create buildups or splash their songs with atmosphere; in any event, it's fairly gripping.

Like Death Cab's "Styrofoam Plates," there's a candidness and emotion here that hits its peak in tracks like "After the K.M. Tapes" and the record's late practical masterpiece, "Firework Special." You look forward to hearing Scheauff's somehow restrained urgency delivered in couplets like "So it's all captured on your four-track / and I can still recall all the fun we had." "Summer of 88" is a potential college radio hit, and its followup, the aforementioned "Firework Special" is an extensive, explosive and overwhelmingly emotive affair.

When you get past the fact that Velveteen is potentially cribbing a number of ideas from the current American giants of the style, you realize that they've nonetheless fashioned them into a delicate, arching and impressive way themselves.

Home Waters