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Now Playing: The Volcano Diary (Available Now)

January 24, 2011

Over the last few days I’ve been listening to The Volcano Diary, an indie electroacoustic trio from Seattle.  If you’re a super hipster snob (and I say that lovingly), you’ll likely hear a familiar voice on their self-titled debut.  Alicia Dara (vox) has a formidable solo career behind her, including the acclaimed The Secret Dream of Tigers. For this latest project, Dara brought together the talents of Gus Palaskas (guitar) and Dave Bush (drums).

The Volcano Diary performs skillfully executed indie pop with alt-country undertones. Their quietly intriguing sound is characterized by soft, introspective vocals over soothing electroacoustic background. Dara’s voice is definitely a strong point. It has the distinct ability to slide from airy to solid in the course of one measure. While the album is mostly guitar-driven, it features welcome guest appearances by organ, strings, and lapsteel.

The first track, “Revival,” begins with a simple repetitive acoustic riff, followed by Dara’s ethereal voice. There’s a nice layering of guitar on this track–a hint at what’s to come. “Volcano” is more ambient, led by a chimey acoustic guitar melody.  “Error Message”  delivers one of the best lines on the album, in a kick-to-the-stomach sort of way: “If you feel you reached this message in error, then I guess that I was wrong.”

Most of the songs advance at a deliberate, sauntering pace.  The energy picks up toward the end, with the rhythmically-driven “Pacifica” and “Lightning Seed.” “Freezerburn” is a particular departure from earlier songs on the album, passing the baton to bass and drum.

Performing “Lightning Seed” in Seattle on December 16, 2010

The Volcano Diary is a strong acoustic indie album, and that’s also my greatest complaint. They demonstrate fabulous parsimony in their songwriting. (And I’m using parsimony in the way you’d describe a quick, but hard-hitting line of poetry.) Yet in spite (or because of) the thoughtfulness in their songs, they seem to play it a little too safe. I’ll be interested to see how their sound unleashes in the next few years.

I know I have some acoustic fanatics lurking around here, so weigh in. Give The Volcano Diary a listen and let me know what you think.

On a final note, The Volcano Diary should definitely stop by local acoustic mecca, Greyhouse, if they ever venture out to Indiana.

The Volcano Diary is available now on CD baby and the band’s website.


Facebook [FREE DOWNLOAD of “Revival”]


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