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mv & ee with the golden road - Gettin Gone
Last year, MV & EE delivered two of the definitive entries into the contemporary psych-folk canon: the sprawling masterpiece 'Mother Of Thousands' and its more concise, upscale sibling 'Green Blues'. Getting' Gone marks something of a departure from the beautiful mess-making of those albums, instead opting for a more focussed approach to classic rock templates, albeit with the distinctively obscure lyrical approach that's so much a part of the Matt Valentine mythology. Inevitably this album has drawn comparisons to Neil Young, and the duo certainly aren't shy of acknowledging Shakey's influence: they've been known to turn out an astonishing cover of 'Powerderfinger' from time to time - and heck, they even went and called their dog Zuma, but this isn't quite the Crazy Horse-inspired opus they've always threatened to make. If anything, the album's far more reined-in than you might expect, focussing on solid riffing and structurally sound songwriting. That's certainly not to say there's anything conservative about Gettin' Gone, it's just a little more ordered than the far-out transmissions we're used to from MV & EE. After the opening, electrified tones of 'Susquehanna (Sole Art Trample)' the album proceeds through a sequence of bluesy numbers, surely ranking as the straightest songs these guys have ever committed to tape. On 'The Burden' Valentine's guitar is as beautifully played as ever, and the double-team vocal locks into that familiar, wasted country vibe whilst Doc Dunn's soaring pedal steel casts a majestic authority over everything. Just when you're thinking how sanitised it's all starting to sound a towering fuzz guitar solo lumbers into the frame and lacerates the mix nicely. Similarly gorgeous is 'I Got Caves In There', whose reverberating psych tones benefit from aloof Erika Elder vocals and florid acoustic digressions. 'Mama My' is a different beast altogether, an all-out rocker with Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis setting his purple Jazzmaster to one side, instead manning the drums with a thumping authority while MV lets rip with a wah-wah dirge. 'Speed Queen' is probably the closest the album comes to Crazy Horse, even approximating Young's frazzled, crunched-up '70s amp sound. Similarly, 'Country Fried' taps into an elongated, altered-state country rock twilight zone that ticks all the right boxes, balancing great songwriting with magnificent, untethered guitar passages. On Gettin' Gone, MV & EE consolidate their position as two of the standout figures in the American underground, pinning down with absolute authenticity - and no small measure of instrumental prowess - a sound that has nothing to do with fads or labels like psych-folk. This is just rock music of the very purest, very finest kind.