Monday, February 25, 2013

Nico Vega Finds Some Fun And Fury

Nico Vega
Aja Volkman has been one of my favorite female rock vocalists ever since I was introduced to Nico Vega in Los Angeles a few years ago. Her vocals are remarkably versatile. She can turn up some natural huskiness and hammer home rockers or she can soften it all up for more indie pop numbers that have solidly carved out the band's niche in alternative rock.

Her bandmates have considerable talent too; Rich Koehler since the beginning in 2005, Dan Epand on drums for the last six years, and Jamila Weaver, who joined the trio as bassist just last year and added another dimension to the band's alternative sound.

There is a foursome of fury on Nico Vega's new EP. 

Since its earliest beginnings, Nico Vega has always been known as a hard-working band that earned attention after self-releasing songs and videos to gain label interest and fan exposure. They were even one of the first bands to try MySpace Records.

Nowadays, they have settled into a more traditional arrangement; a fresh relationship with Five Seven Music since last year. The match seems on par with everything fans have expected for some time now because there is still plenty to talk about inside their six-pack EP, Fury Oh Fury.

Although the title track is easily the favorite based on individual download sales, the relaxed and sometimes poetic rocker is only a sliver of what makes the EP a standout. It's a solid song with maybe some foreshadowing of what might be yet to come as Nico Vega tours with Imagine Dragons. (Volkman is married and has a daughter with frontman Dan Reynolds.)

The real power picks up on the second track, with Volkman belting out a revamp of a 2006 track that originally appeared on their album Chooseyourwordspoorly. Interest in the track was revived after the song was selected for a Bioshock Infinite trailer this year. And the revamp sounds as fresh as ever.

The Beast has always been a great chant-along song, with Volkman wailing with her full fury. This song is one of the reasons I started paying attention to the band. It might be a simple rocker, but Nico Vega has always been able to power it up as a primal, near classic rocker.

By track three, the band eases up on the rocker angst and lightens the mood. Easier is light years lighter than the opening track — so much so that it sounds a like a different band to anyone who has never heard them before. The better, lighter track sticks closer to their alternative rock influences.

Lightening is a lyrical love song of sorts, but carries a simple, solid chord structure donated by Justin Warfield of She Wants Revenge. While Nico Vega has always been about a three-way collaboration, Volkman said bringing in others form from time to time pushes them in different directions.

Not for anything, expect the song to progressively get rougher while on tour. After seeing the Lightening video, I couldn't help but to get the sense that the band feels a bit constricted with it — making it a prime target for embellishment. Volkman still insists she's not so into writing love songs (although she did write this one week before her wedding).

The two remaining tracks include the oddly cast We Are The Art and atmospheric Lead To Light. Neither really fits with anything that comes before on the album, which is part of what makes the EP so interesting. As much as it was written to reintroduce the band and make a personal statement that they are still in the game, Nico Vega has also made it clear that they'll do almost anything on their next album.

Nico Vega Skirts A Fury Oh Fury EP With 5.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Personally, I think the EP is brilliant with only a few weak spots to get the band up and running again. And who really knows what will happen as they tour around this year and see for themselves what people respond to. That said, I don't see this EP becoming a favorite among other fans, only because it is diverse enough that relatively few people will connect with all six tracks.

On the flipside, almost anyone can find one or two things on the EP to like, whether that might be indie pop, alternative, or something closer to classic rock. You can download Fury Oh Fury from iTunes or grab some of the Fury Oh Fury EP tracks from Amazon. Check out their tour dates on Facebook.
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