Experimental group looses its oomph
Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band is a family affair, three-fourths comprised of guitarist/singer Benjamin Verdoes, his wife Traci Eggleston and Verdoes’ adopted 15-year-old brother Marshall. Their 2008 self-titled debut showcased this close-knit relationship; the album was relentlessly agile, its melodies twisting into snaking experimental masterpieces with ever-shifting time signatures and improvised riffing/drumming give-and-take. But on sophomore effort Messengers, the group’s once-boiling math-rock tendencies have cooled to a low simmer, like on “Gone Again,” where a single electric guitar trudges through a bog of troubled narratives. (“You felt you were cured, so I played the monster,” the elder Verdoes mourns.) Close-knit is fine, but on Messenger, the band has pulled themselves in too tight.