By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
By Steve Weinstein
By Araceli Cruz
Andy Cabics Vetiverse is a rather splendored thang, suffused with laid-back, sun-dappled folk-rock grooves that will either convert you or kill you softly with easy, breezy melodies and willed anachronism. Fittingly, as election 08 slinks outta West Virginia and Kentucky with Dueling Banjos as the theme, the Tamil-named Vetiver has underscored their purpose of sonic utopia reconstruction with Thing of the Past, a covers disc just in time to soundtrack the looming Summer of Steampunk.
Its curious that most Dixie-fried adherents of naturalismo (bearded paterfamilias Devendra Banharts substitute for the reviled freak-folk and New Weird America tags) do little to stem their descent from rich heritage into the cesspool of mundane, overly commodified coastal hipsterism. Even if its a stop-gap measure addressing artistic restlessness, Thing of the Past fortunately favors Vetivers roots by careful attention to the sound of classic soil-and-road narratives, as well as to songwriters cherished and remembered along the Southeastern redneck-savant axis: Michael Hurley (Blue Driver), Bobby Charles (I Must Be in a Good Place Now), and Townes Van Zandt (Standin ).
Aint much avant about dis here folk: Its much more evocative of Pacific Coast Highway easy-rock or the Bands Woodstock idyll than Folkways purity or prewar rural austerity. Mercifully, though, self-conscious freakery is kept to a minimum, but one occasionally wishes that Cabic might challenge his reverent delicacies by tackling some edgier freaky-deak material, as his reb belle peers Shelby Lynne and Cat Power (her fetishization of Carolinian goddess Nina Simone requires another forum) have done. As a descendant of the Naturals and proto-Southerners whose folkways and ecology were destroyed by the Brits, I feel qualified to prod Cabic to draw on his down-home roots and be the change that steers his subculture away from insularity and toward much-needed community. As an Afro-Keltic redbone boho, I want to love naturalismo, yet Ive been hindered by the genres seemingly ruthless apathy and tainted Luddite mystique amid the 21st centurys incessant turbulence. As we hurtle toward 2012, I expect to see more plain folks get reconnected with their inner savage, and see artists like Vetiver take on a shamanic role in restoring their audience to the best aspects of their past tribal selves.