The Velvet Teen
When people describe a band as “diverse,” they usually mean that the band has trouble focusing on what it’s good at. Instead, it ends up “branching out” into “groundbreaking efforts,” à la Spinal Tap’s “jazz odyssey.” But the Velvet Teen manages to present a diverse array of sounds on concise recordings on which the experimentation is welcoming. The California trio is just as likely to write a 3-minute pop song as it is to compose an 8-minute epic. The band conjures guitar-driven indie sunshine and sprinkles it with piano-centric, rainy-day mope fests and the occasional sprawling, icy atmospherics. Top things off with Judah Nagler’s soaring vocal gymnastics that seem to channel Jeff Buckley with the affectations of Thom Yorke, and what’s left is an ambitious young band capable of breathtaking dynamics as it searches for — but doesn’t seem to have trouble finding — its own sound.