Liner Notes- 25. Aug.2022
Beeps & Bloops, Black Thought spitting bars, and Brooklyn
This year I’ve taken on the challenge of listening to and reviewing 100 new (to me) records. This is the latest in that series.
Velocity Girl- “Copacetic” 1993
There is a myth that alternative music in the 90s was entirely dour, angry, and/or both. And while it’s true that the Grunge, Riot Grrrl, and similar scenes got a lot of the spotlight, there were plenty of other less angsty bands out there. Bands that trafficked in distortion, vocals that didn’t growl, etc.
Bands like Velocity Girl.
Named for a Primal Scream song on NME’s now infamous C86 music sampler, Velocity girl got their start in 1989 in the DC area. Originally a duo, they started when Kelly Riles and Archie Moore met in college. The pair added bandmates Jim Spellman, Brian Nelson, and lead singer Bridget Cross, who would soon decamp to the criminally underrated Unrest.
With Sarah Shannon taking over vocal duties from Cross, the band found its voice.
Unlike many of their peers, Velocity Girl played a more melodic jangly brand of music, stuffed with hooks and enjoyable melodies- all with Shannon’s sweet vocals across the top. In other words, they are the epitome of what college rock meant in the early 90s, and “Sorry Again” off their sophomore record Simpatico! could be heard all over campuses and college radio in 1994.
They hit “peak 90s” when featured on the Clueless soundtrack (music nerd note: Cracker does a great cover of the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Shake Some action”).
Not too long after that, “Sorry Again” was featured in a VW commercial. What better way to sell cars to all those newly minted college grads!
But before Cher, Dionne, and Jettas, there was “Copacetic,” the band’s debut record. Whereas Simpatico! was polished, Copacetic was a little less so. Not yet ready for prime time in the same way early R.E.M. or similar bands were.
That doesn’t take away from their talent or the record's appeal, though. Like most of the kids listening to them, the record varies between a few styles before finding its true sound. There are “wall of guitar parts” and parts where a listener would be excused for thinking they were listening to a Lush record. Others sound like Real Ramona-era Throwing Muses. But Velocity Girl truly shines when it strikes the balance between Shannon’s sweet voice against a sort of indie power pop on tracks like “Crazy Town.”
So the era of pagers, Luke Perry, and Stacey Dash being normal may have passed, but should Copacetic stay in the past with them?
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