Vic Chestnutt, Elf Power, and The Amorphous Strums | Dark Developments
Most Likely To: be cheaper than an anger management seminar, and more effective, too.
Just as I thought that my musical neurons were fried and could no longer appreciate subtlety of any kind, along comes a record like Dark Developments to prove me wrong. The latest effort from singer-songwriter Vic Chestnutt, Dark Developments features Chestnutt at the helm backed by Athens, Georgia rockers Elf Power (plus a few stragglers known as the Amorphous Strums).
Chestnutt is a seasoned collaborator who has recorded with a wide range of musicians including David Lowery and Van Dyke Parks. While Chestnutt also inhabits the Athens environs, one can imagine that both parties hoped they would share more than just geography while recording and jigsaw their music into something worthy of a listen. Elf Power moderates Chestnutt’s warbly earthiness while under Chestnutt’s vocal leadership, Elf Power’s sound becomes leaner and less embellished.
Most of the songs on Dark Developments lack the psychedelic pep of Elf Power’s better works (i.e. Walking with the Beggar Boys and A Dream in Sound), but the blistering guitar solo on “Little Fucker” has staying power. Be wary of the desire to sing along, however, because with lyrics like, “that little fucker had a tear in his eye / the little fucker really draws you in / that little fucker he’s good riddance” are bound to get you the wrong kind of attention in public. “We Are Mean,” the bile-ridden center of the record, is a tuneful dose of catharsis, which dampens the heat of its lyrics with playful instrumentation.
For those who like their music with a heaping dose of social conscience, you can all rest easy knowing that Orange Twin released Dark Developments. Founded by Elf Power in 1999, Orange Twin has grown to be more than just a record label. At present it’s also a Conservation Community whose slouch towards utopia includes the attempt to create a self-sustaining enclave near Athens.
Listen to “Teddy Bear” from Vic Chestnutt, Elf Power, and the Amorphous Strums: