| Jam On-Line
No doubt about it: Velvet Chain will be famous. Warm is on par with atmospheric albums like U2's Achtung Baby and the Cure's Staring at the Sea. Velvet Chain combines elements of trip-hop, grunge, and orchestral melodies into a hypnotizing opiate. (I fear that if I remove the disc from my changer my stereo will never sound good again!) Turn off all lamps, light your candles, and be seduced by Velvet Chain.
Warm is so urgent it makes entire CD collection sound outdated. The title track is a buzzy, groove-heavy trope about initiating a sexual relationship. Its blistering grunge guitar and pulsating rhythm exposes an unrequited physical desire building into blinding frustration. Lead singer Erika Amato's "Yeah yeah/Just like that baby/I like it just like that..." Zeppelinish crescendo is mind-blowing.
Warm is such a passionate album that it glows like a white-hot ember. "Sour Times" is an up-tempo version of the Portishead hit and is a major improvement. Gone is the brooding melancholy and in its place a furious desire that is angry and soulful. "Frenchie (Crazy Music)" reveals Velvet Chain's great sense of humor. The song is an electronica masterpiece piecing together a disco drum loop and a hysterical French answering machine message. The track is an homage to the appropriated style of trip-hop which influences the whole album. Velvet Chain sounds like a side project between members of Radiohead, Garbage, and Portishead. Velvet Chain is a less synthetic band than the Sneaker Pimps but has the same gothic, glam style with a rocker's aesthetic. The band deviates from the trip-hop clich™s and Amato belts out brilliant, unpretentious lyrics. Warm is cinematic and moody and signals the ascendancy of Velvet Chain to national prominence.
Straight from Los Angeles, Velvet Chain has exploded onto the Southern California music scene. Chances are they will be bursting into your stereo too, with their recent debut, Warm. Vocalist Erika Amato has an incredible voice that is smooth and soothing, but also full of energy. She was brought up listening to the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby, whom she cites as influences, but she "also loved the Police, Annie Lennox, Kate Bush, and Bono."
The band sounds like . . . well, they sound like a little bit of everything. They could almost be classified as adult trip-hop. Almost. They don't have to try very hard to get that multi-style sound into their songs - it just comes [naturally]. Jeff Stacy, primary writer for the band, says, "In a nutshell, we're a trip-hop band that rocks." And rockin' is what they're known for in concert. Velvet Chain is amazing live, confirmed by the crowds that pack in to see them around L.A. According to Stacy, "... We'll play a heavy rocker, then a waltz, then there's a song Erika sings in French, then there's a spoken-word piece, then there's this trip-hop thing, and then there's a blues-type thing. Somehow, there's continuity."
It's the same idea on the album. Velvet Chain flows from one genre to the next, and you hardly notice. However, recreating the album live is not what Velvet Chain is about in concert. "Sometimes people like to see you blow it," says Stacy. "Velvet Chain will take a lot of chances during their live performances."
I've been a loyal follower of LA's very own Velvet Chain for a couple of years now, and in my book, they're one of the best bands in town! Fronted by lead vocalist Erika Amato, this combo delivers a hybrid sound that incorporates elements of rock, trip-hop, jazz, pop and ambient/trance to create a sound that's familiar yet challenging, smooth yet edgy, and subtle yet commanding. Armed with this mesmerizing sound and an arresting stage presence, they've built an incredibly loyal fan base in SoCal, and recently, they've begun to take the show on the road - having just returned from a successful six-week national tour that helped spread the word far and wide. In addition, they've been featured on VH1's "Sparkle Lounge" and wrote the show's theme song. Further, Velvet Chain was prominently featured on an episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," which has aired several times.
So you see, the only element Velvet Chain is missing to break through is legitimate airplay. That should now change with Warm, the band's first national release. Songs like "Strong," Come To Me," "Time And Days," "Can't Stay Away" and the title track (the Turbo Mix, please!) are all radio-ready and can satisfy the diversified taste of the Adult Rock format. Sometimes you have to get past the label size and band notoriety, and make a choice based solely on the quality of the music. If you use this criteria, I know adding Velvet Chain to your playlist will be the choice you'll make.