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Nathan Tompkins 08/02/12 12:23 PM

Velgato - Cigarette EP
Velgato - Cigarette EP
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: December 30, 2011

To put it bluntly, before Velgato I believed that tribute acts could only exist as performers labouring on another’s already definitive catalogue of work, as though the originals were monumental artefacts of some kind, worthy of constant celebration. On the odd occasion these acts, or actors as I prefer to identify them, would be rewarded with lucrative opportunities such as soundtracks for small theatre productions or performances at prosperous wedding ceremonies, and all because they sported a unique ability to imitate another’s songs with such conviction that it near impossible to identify any indifference.

But as we know, that’s all part of the game. Tribute acts have occupied their own corner of the entertainment industry for numerous decades now. Very seldom does their material get taken too seriously by critics, high or low brow. As their consensus implies, they merely exist to honour, nothing more nothing less.

With debut EP Cigarette, however, Floridian band Velgato make for an unsettling listen for any critic well accustomed to rudimentary musical schemas. In fact, and for the purpose of justifying my somewhat lengthy beginning, not only does an unprecedented lack of originality in their material make it possible to immediately denounce Velgato as an independent outfit, it also makes the task of marking their work severely unsatisfying.

Only a brief three recordings long, Cigarette begins with ‘Dinosaur Rock’, a fuzzed out ode to the enigmatic 90s alt-rock generation, only without the charm, charisma and ingenuity that made its exponents’ works so noble. Next is ‘Johnny Song’ which, as its sluggish naming alone suggests, is an attempt to reincarnate the bands presence as a modern Velvet Underground. Rather shamelessly, this too fails not only as a stab to rival its peers, but more importantly as a stretch to claim some ground of their own making. ‘Heirloom’ closes proceedings with yet another major gear shift in fundamental style and influence. The intimate acoustic verses and soft crooning vocals fall victim of an instant resemblance to a more undignified Elliot Smith - I say undignified because the ethereality and raw emotion that made the majority of Smith’s discography so permitted to critical appraisal is in anything but abundance here. And this is all before a make-shift Stiff Little Fingers ensemble drop in to disable the remainder of the show.

Unfortunately for Velgato it’s too difficult not to let such obvious flaws overpopulate the greater percentage of my critical opinion. I appeal guiltily because aside from lazy song writing this EP still does showcase some positive contents: the overall recording quality, if a little too textbook at times, is satisfying for the most part, and the vocal delivery certainly offers compliments to the rest of the instrumentation. Yet there’s no doubt that, even after inspecting the farthest depths beneath its surface, all one is subject to sitting through with Cigarette is a product of the utmost homogeneity. And I don’t know about you, but personally I’d much rather listen to the originals.

Recommended if you have heard of/are only mildly into The Rolling Stones, The Stooges, Elliot Smith, Fu Manchu, QOTSA and Stone Temple Pilots. Devoted Rock'n Roll fans or critics on the other hand should probably seek a restraining order.