Seattle’s Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band introduced itself to the world a couple of years ago with some hilarious, cheesy online videos made to look like one of those TV commercials pitching a compilation of ’70s lite-rock hits. “If you like the smooth sounds of indie-prog-math-pop-rock as much as we do, you’re in for a treat,” the host says in one. “Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band has revolutionized passive-aggressive progressive rock!”
There was a time not so long ago when all a band had to do was play music, but whatever. MSHVB’s videos were funny, and the stunt got them a lot of attention. So did the band name, which references two things that blew up in America’s face. And then there was the unusual lineup: guitarist Matthew Dammer, bassist Jared Price, singer Benjamin Verdoes, Verdoes’ wife, Traci Eggleston-Verdoes, on keyboards, and Verdoes’s then 12-year-old brother Marshall on drums. Marshall, by the way, is black, but Benjamin is white.
So, now that they have our attention, what do they sound like? MSHVB’s first album was largely in the herky-jerky vein of Modest Mouse, with a heaping portion of Vampire Weekend’s bubbliness. The band often sounded like they were trying to stuff 40 pounds of notes into a bag that only holds 30, but they got by on charm. This year’s Where the Messengers Meet is a mellower affair, with songs that are slower, simpler, and have more time to develop. “The Roof” doesn’t really get going until three minutes into its five-minute length, when it unleashes a cool descending guitar line. MSHVB grabbed our attention, and now it looks like they’re going to earn it.
The Globes and Fever Sleeves also perform.
MT. ST. HELENS VIETNAM BAND: The Casbah, Thursday, December 9, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $10.