Last month, I wrote two rather lengthy posts on the pioneering Raleigh, NC/NYC-based shoegaze quintet The Veldt. Currently comprised of founding members and identical twin brothers Daniel Chavis (vocals, guitar) and Danny Chavis (guitar) along with founding member Martin Levi (drums), Hayato Nakao (bass) and Frank Olsen (guitar), the quintet can trace their origins to the vital and quirky Chapel Hill, NC music scene of the late 80s and early 90s — a scene that featured Superchunk (perhaps, the best known out of that entire scene), Polvo, Dillon Fence and others. Initially featuring the Chavis Brothers and Levi along with Joseph “Hue” Boyle (bass) and later David Burris, The Veldt have a long-held reputation for being a rather extreme rarity — a shoegaze act prominently featuring black men in a genre in which it’s still considered unusual. And they did so in a place and at a time in which it was incredibly atypical. However, the then-Chapel Hill, NC-based band quickly attained “must-see” status in their hometown — and then a rapidly growing national profile with the release of their full-length debut effort, Marigolds.
Their 1994 Ray Shulman-produced sophomore effort Afrodisiac propelled the band towards international recognition and as a result, The Veldt wound up opening and touring with the likes of The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush, Oasis, Cocteau Twins, Pixies, Fishbone, Corrosion of Conformity and others. Unfortunately, throughout their initial run together, the band fought with both their management and with their label and various imprints, who found them “too difficult to market” perhaps because their sound and look was about 20 years ahead of time, and the band found themselves being dropped from their label. Struggling to fund writing, recording, releasing and marketing their work and touring, the band went through several lineup changes before officially going on hiatus in 1998. Worse yet, being dropped from their label had the band and their efforts fall into relative obscurity for some time — until several members of Bloc Party and TV on the Radio‘s Dave Sitek publicly cited The Veldt as influences on their work and sound. Regardless if you’re an artist or a music fan, the members of the band have a unique perspective as they’ve been a part of a major label at a time when major labels were the thing, were indie artists self-releasing their own material when it increasingly becoming the norm for artists outside of the mainstream and have continued to be fiercely independent since. . .
The forthcoming release of The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation Mixtape, their first batch of original material in almost 20 years, and the members of the re-consistuted band seek to firmly establish their claim as the forebears and pioneers of a sound and aesthetic that has captured the blogosphere and fans by storm. “Sanctified,” the first single off The Shocking Fuzz reveals how deeply indebted TV on the Radio’s sound is to The Veldt as towering squalls of guitar chords played through gentle amounts of reverb paired with skittering yet propulsive drum programming and Danny Chavis’ soulful crooning in a tender and swooning song that evokes the feeling of being desperately, madly, stupidly in love — in a way that nods at subtly cosmic version of The Jesus and Mary Chain, if they had been influenced by Fishbone, Marvin Gaye and Prince; in other words, it’s shoegaze that manages to be irresistibly sexy.
The recently released music video was shot by NYC-based photographer Ed Marshall and features footage of the band performing at The Shop in Bushwick last month, superimposed with footage of the band walking along the beach and space imagery — all to emphasize the trippy and introspective nature of the song.