Viva Voce, which is Italian for “word of mouth” is the husband-and-wife indie rock duo of Kevin and Anita Robinson. They’re playing out of Portland now, but they both grew up in Alabama. In 1998, while they were still living in Alabama, they released their first album. After that, they moved to Memphis, then Portland. They released their sixth and most recent album last year. After hopping between indie rock labels Asthmatic Kitty, Minty Fresh, and Barsuk, they signed with Vanguard — a label that doesn’t really release rock records.
Unlike most bands that I like, I can tell you where I was and who I was with the first time I ever laid ears on Viva Voce. I can even tell you the date. It was Monday March 28, 2005. I was on a second date with a girl named Karen, with whom I had a two-month romance. We went to Gate City Noise, a brilliant record store that was here in Greensboro. They used to have all sorts of really amazing in-store shows. Superchunk, American Analog Set, The Shins, Destroyer, Mark Kozelek (just to name a few from the top of my head). Sadly, they couldn’t stay in business, even though they were located on a university campus. Damn the big box store! Damn piracy! Damn the age of digital downloads! Vive la record shop!
By the way, it’s not like I have some crazily acute memory. I happened to have blogged about that experience of seeing Viva Voce. I ended up buying their record The Heat Can Melt Your Brain that night. For a stroll down my memory lane, read this.
Back to the present. Back to the purpose of today’s song. Here it is. This is that song:
If I had to make a (blank) meets (blank) assessment of this song, I’d go with “Hope Sandoval meets early Smashing Pumpkins”. It’s the guitar hook that makes me think of some Smashing Pumpkins song. Probably something from Siamese Dream. It’s Anita’s vocals throughout this song that remind me of Hope Sandoval. Not Mazzy Star, though. Not Hope Sandoval and The Warm Inventions. I’m thinking specifically of those songs that she made with The Jesus & Mary Chain on their 1994 album Stoned and Dethroned. Anita Robinson doesn’t always remind me of Hope Sandoval. On another occasion, as I wrote in that ancient post, she reminded me of Mary Timony from Helium. And also of Debby Vander Wall from Butterglory.
There’s a neat little mini-break at 2:22 that lasts for 15 seconds of relative quiet, then the “loud” comes back in. Not that it’s a particularly loud song. Just that it has a tiny bit of that Pixies-esque loud/quiet/loud structure. If I’m honest, I kind of wish the song would end there, though. I can live without the “Get some peace and quiet” backing vocal that’s repeated a bunch of times for the rest of the song. It’s got some annoying effect that’s probably called “through an attenuated bullhorn”. Do bullhorns even have “attenuate” buttons? Why would they? The point is, it sounds tinny and sounds like it was overamplified, and rebroadcast with that sound was turned way down. “Through an attenuated bullhorn”.
Apart from that, I love the song. I hope you do, too.
You can buy The Future Will Destroy You in the format of your choice here. Better still, buy it at a local record shop.