Veritas Est Rock

Paul Karner

My name is Paul and this is my column. I’m no expert in the field of music nor in the field of pop culture; however, I have thoughts and opinions and whether you agree or disagree I hope to provide some insight into the curious world of rock music.
That said, I spent a good portion of my summer riding in a van. As my band and I spent hours driving through some of the most boring places I never knew existed, I grew bored of nearly all of my CDs. The album that served as my muse during these terrible drives came from, I thought, a rather unlikely source.
After The Promise Ring called it quits, front man Davey von Bohlen and David Didier went on to form Maritime. Enlisting the help of Eric Axleson, former bassist of The Dismemberment Plan, and purveying a more subdued and polished pop sensibility, Maritime unfortunately showed very little hope of becoming more than just salvaged goods.
The band’s 2004 debut “Glass Floor” with its forgettable hooks and senseless synth overlays was disappointing to say the least. Nonetheless, Maritime released a rather unanticipated follow-up called “We, the Vehicles” in April, which may be enough to cover up any previous wrongdoings.
Davy’s infectious melodies are perhaps the most noticeable aspect to the album. The first track “Calm” shines with Bohlen’s inviting vocals sung with his trademark lisp, which is no less endearing after all these years. The vocals are unobtrusive yet gripping, which is remarkable considering the heart-on-your-sleeve and/or tongue-in-cheek vocalists that are flooding the indie rock scene these days.
Even the slightly euro-pop vibe of “Tearing up the Oxygen” has a dignity that is not lost in any attempt to be kitschy. The most remarkable aspect of this album is its seeming simplicity. Where “Glass Floor” was smeared with overdubbed strings and keyboards, “Vehicles” rarely diverges from the guitar-bass-drum formula.
Without getting too sentimental, there is something really touching when a rock band can just be a rock band and make something beautiful and engaging without feeling the need to drown out their own mediocrity with puked-up string arrangements and studio wizardry.
Perhaps it’s because Maritime has finally moved on from being “ex-members” of their former projects, or maybe it’s the fact that they’re all dads–a fact they’ve pointed out in almost every interview. Whatever the reason, “We, the Vehicles” is an album that stands apart from the shifting trends and media hype that drives so many musicians these days.

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