Music

Positive Vibes

Velella Velella Party Smart

Ivor Bigbotty
Velella Velella - Progressing swimmingly.

Velella Velella is the Latin name for a jellyfish known as By-the-wind Sailor, but the Seattle quartet who play under that name have their feet planted on solid ground. They're one of those bands that radiate a positivity that somehow eludes corniness, inspiring instead staunch faith in their project.

Once you hear VV's debut CD, The Bay of Biscay (on their own Big V label), such loyalty will be amply rewarded. Receiving deserved airplay on local powerhouse KEXP, the disc balances brash inventiveness with winsome melodic skill. VV's four multi-instrumentalists—Andrew Means, Jeremy Hadley, Sylvia Chen, and Michael Burton—have surplus funk in their trunks for the hedonists and enough exploratory textures to please the beard-scratching aesthetes.

As evidenced by their brilliant album and celebratory live shows, VV elegantly bridge the gap between U.S.E's ebullient dance sensibilities and FCS North's intricate instrumental interplay and sophisticated dynamics. Anyone susceptible to Gang of Four's jagged guitars, Mice Parade's euphonious vibes, or Madlib's funk nuances will embrace VV as one of the city's most welcome newcomers.

The band's original members—Burton and Means—moved to Seattle from Spokane in 2004 and hired Hadley, who works for Decorporated, to be their manager shortly after relocating. His first move? Adding himself and Chen (who also plays in electro-poppers Long Ranger) to the lineup. Savvy.

VV have ascended to prominence, recently nabbing a coveted opening slot for Nouvelle Vague. Their quick rise has been abetted by a basement studio setup that allows for daily creativity to flourish—and by demeanors receptive to absurdity and fun.

Means chuckles when he's told his music bears a tendency toward whimsy. "We all love to laugh. We would love to tour with MF Doom. I want our music to communicate what we're about. It's not only about the rhythm; it's about joy, about how music affects you."

Velella Velella's U.S.E-like tight-knit, euphoric vibe counters the prevailing indie-rock snobbery. "We see so much cynicism and insincerity," Means says. "We want no part of that. The best thing in the world is when you see people totally abandoning everything and getting into the music."

segal@thestranger.com
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