Alt-Nation: Vudu Sister’s Latest and Spring Shows

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Vudu Sister – Mortis Nervosa

The word “chameleon” is thrown around in music terms by critics who can’t think of anything better to say about musicians. The truth is, music is an artist trying to find their own voice, so painting X is going to be different from painting Y, just like those chromosomes. Vudu Sister’s first release, 2011’s Bastard Children, was slanted toward the Americana spectrum. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Keith McCurdy told me at the time of their second release, the grunge-inspired Household Items, it was never his intention to jump aboard the Americana gravy train. He was just writing music with who was around at that time and that is just how it came together. Those grunge-era Vudu Sister shows were thrilling at the time, but on repeated listening I came to the conclusion that it wasn’t the best avenue for McCurdy because his songs don’t tend to have the big shout-it-out-loud choruses.  So now we have Vudu Sister’s newest release, Mortis Nervosa, which is billed as being gothic folk/ danse macabre/witch rock. As for the new direction for Vudu Sister on Mortis Nervosa, McCurdy told me he doesn’t like to repeat himself. Many of the songs were inspired by horror series for children called Scary Stories that was published in the ’80s and ’90s. McCurdy would just write his own story based on an image or chapter title that did not necessarily have anything to do with the actual story in the book. This explains song titles like “The Haunted House” and “The Girl Who Stood on a Grave,” which both have a horror vibe. The elegance in the music on Mortis Nervosa would make it appropriate at a vampire campfire.

I’ve always loved music, regardless of genre, that takes you to another place. McCurdy and company succeed in this on Mortis Nervosa with tunes like “Maladaptive” and “Cold as Clay” that both have this odd 19th century Victorian feel. Diane O’Connor’s violin adds a haunted feel throughout the record that provides the aforementioned danse macabre element that plagues Mortis Nervosa in a good way! “Raven-haired Girl” has the feel of an old folk love shanty spruced with this element of darkness. “The Wendigo” isn’t too far from a ’70s singer-songwriter, but the way McCurdy’s vocals cut through give it a sharper demented feel to keep things fresh. “He Heard Footsteps Coming Up the Cellar Stairs” is about a serial killer and it made me think of a detailed explanation of what the Ramones were scared of in their song “I Don’t Wanna Go Down to The Basement.” My favorite track is “When I Wake Up, Everything Will Be Alright,” which feels like Victorian grunge, if that was a term that actually existed. With Mortis Nervosa, Vudu Sister has added their own chapter to Rhode Island’s rich folklore of the supernatural.

Vudu Sister will be performing June 18 at Sandywoods Center For The Arts in Tiverton with Allysen Callery.

The Schemers

Rhode Island Hall of Famers The Schemers only play one or two shows a year, so it is always a special treat when this happens. The Schemers, led by Mark Cutler, play pretty much straight up rock ‘n’ roll in the vein of an early Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers meets the Velvet Underground. Last year, The Schemers actually released a new record, The Last Beach, their first new music in 11 years. The Schemers pretty much have done it all, including winning the WBRU Rock Hunt; they just did it before everyone else. I’ve caught The Schemers a few times in recent years and they do a good mix of their classic material including the local hit, “I Want Some Fun,” as well as material from Cutler’s more recent solo albums. If you want to see some classic rock done right, don’t miss The Schemers at The Met!

The Schemers will rock The Met Café on May 22. This is an early show with doors at 4pm. The show will run from 5 – 9pm. 

Luna

’90s indie dream pop-rockers Luna fulfilled the dreams of many long time fans by reuniting last year for a successful run of shows that included a sold-out show in Boston. Over the years I’d get into conversations about great ’90s bands, and Luna would usually come up. I remember one particularly killer tune off their debut album, Lunapark, called “Anesthesia” that was like the dreamy side of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Darklands record with the minimalism of the Velvet Underground. Luna would go on to refine their sound through a run of seven studio albums and a live record. The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend is admittedly a tough day to get out to a show, but for Luna I’ll make an attempt!

Luna will rock the Columbus Theatre on May 29.

Email music news to mclarkin33@gmail.com

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