While it has only been 18 months since Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band’s self-titled debut, they have traveled what feels like thousands of miles. Where The Messengers Meet is in real time, an expansion of the sound of the band’s eponymous debut. They take the same frantic and skewed elements and stretch them out, giving them room to breathe and blossom. Thematically, Where The Messengers Meet is an exercise in contrasts: the delicate and gentle, the dark and furious. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band collects powerful compositions into one cohesive whole held together with lush production and a haunting atmosphere. They are imperceptibly inching away from an angular style influenced by Modest Mouse and Wolf Parade, instead incorporating an epic sound recalling both the modern masters such as Arcade Fire, and classic pioneers, like Pink Floyd.
Still true on Where The Messengers Meet are classic rock-informed guitar leads and thundering anthems, but the band carefully melds those elements with subtle organ sounds, layered strings and a measure of restraint. The songs feel related to one another lyrically, musically, thematically–it feels like a true album, something that holds together from start to finish.
The recording of Where The Messengers Meet was a patient process, conducted over eight months, in part during Seattle’s darkest and rainiest time of year. The slow process of recording in an old loft near the harbor led to this careful approach. This band has taken their past, and transformed it. The hooks are still prevalent, the catchy sing-along moments not forgotten, but with the help of engineer / co-producer Jonathan Warman, they arrived at something much grander.
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band was conceived in order that 28-year-old songwriter Benjamin Verdoes could teach his younger brother, Marshall, now 15, drums. This almost seems like ancient history now – Marshall is an accomplished musician regardless of age. After all, the band has logged 150 plus shows since their first performance in July of 2008, touring both as headliners and in support of such bands as Cursive, Japandroids, Bishop Allen, and Frog Eyes. They visited festival stages at Bonnaroo, Sasquatch and Bumbershoot and actually performed at Mt. St. Helens itself. Joined by Benjamin Verdoes’ (guitar, vocals) wife Traci Eggleston (keys, vocals, miscellaneous percussion) and Jared Price (bass, guitar, drums, organ), Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band are a band stretching their ideas, expanding their vision into the undeniably satisfying album, Where the Messengers Meet.