Mickey Madden of Maroon 5 reportedly financed VietNam's self-titled debut full-length -- but don't hold that against singer/songwriter Michael Gerner, whose band shares this bill with the Black Angels and Mothership. Granted, Gerner's a classicist of sorts, but he couldn't be less interested in making glossy pop soul for a new generation. His musical influences lean more toward folk rock, blues rock and downer psychedelia, while his lyrics brim with the sort of metaphor-heavy wordiness that fills "Priest, Poet & the Pig." Some of his writing sounds too damn written, as in "But even as rats know there's no cheese in me to be scored/I guess that everything's left right," from "Hotel Riverview." Nevertheless, his singing, which ranges from sensitive gruffness to impassioned yowling, packs plenty of authority, and his defiantly hirsute bandmates, led by fellow songwriter/lead guitarist Josh Grubb, provide musical accompaniment that's as burly as the main man. The results are unlikely to thrill Maroon 5 boosters, and if that's bad news for Gerner from a commercial standpoint, it's a positive in virtually every other respect.
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