Toronto born NY, NY transplant has had an exciting 18 months. Starting with her debut show in May 2014 she has followed up with opening for Manic Street Preachers on their Holy Bible Tour in NYC and Boston. She released her 2014 EP “Die Alone” to critical praise. She had her profile raised even further with her efforts playing bass for Courtney Love’s band as the opening act for Lana Del Ray this summer. She went on to provided bass for the band Tamaryn on their tour of North America and Europe, and she finishes off this year releasing her debut full length album, “Spying” on October 16th. Jennie has garnered quite a following; among some of her big named admirers are Courtney Love, Dave Navarro, Snow Patrol, Music business heavy hitter Alan McGee, and the Libertines.
Jennie Vee had fronted the band Canadian punk band Tuuli and the electro pop band the Vicious Guns. That band is where she met her frequent collaborator, guitarist/music studio magician Richey Rose. Vee weaves her magic in the genres of Nu-gaze and gloom pop but is never one to get stuck in any one style. She lists her influences as The Cure, Jesus and the Mary Chain, U2, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen and Hole.
In regards to the influence of Hole on Vee’s musically stylings; many have made the connection in their compatible sounds. There was significant buzz even before Vee met up with Love, with many calling her the next “Courtney Love”. Vee eventually met Courtney Love through nightlife impresario Nur Khan. Vee and Courtney Love have since set up a kind of mutual admiration society. Courtney Love has been a big cheerleader for Vee mentoring her in many ways in the development of Vee’s career. Courtney has said about Vee, “Jennie is the real deal; she was a rock star from our first show together.” There is certainly a similarity in some areas of Vee’s work to Hole, but she is less angry and more introspective than Love and Hole.
On “Spying” Vee wrote and performed all the songs. Vee, Richey Rose and Paul Wilson (Snow Patrol) produced the release together. Chris Lord Alge (Springsteen, Green Day) mixed the song “Wicked”. Laura Hermiston from the Toronto band Twist sang backups on “Dreamtime”. Graphic design was provided by Brittney Townson and photography by Katrin Albert. With such maestros at the studio desk there has been significant anticipation for the release.
Spying is an achingly emotive album. The album is also a continuation from Vee’s debut EP “Die Alone” both releases were written around the same time. On “Spying” the longer format allows for more room to ruminate over the themes of isolation and accountability for one’s own happiness. The title track kicks off the album with an addictively gritty 90’s vibe. Vee’s breathless floating ethereal vocal dances above the driving energy filled accompaniment. You can identify the sonic fingerprints of Jennie’s influences, Echo and the Bunnymen, Hole and The Cure.
“Wicked” has a fantastic chiming guitar riff and Vee’s throaty bass play. The down and dirty play of the bass is juxtapositioned with Vee’s crystalline vocal which lightens the mood. The lyrics of the song play upon the adage, “There is no rest for the wicked.” Found in the song are great musicianship and an impeccable ear for the mixing of the track. “Toys” shows that Vee has imbibed the lessons of bands she grew up with in the 90’s. There is a great reverb intro and her voice enters a more earthy register to deliver this song. The song also entices with spiraling shimmering guitars.
After the more introspective “Toys” the song “Dreamtime” is a bouncy post punk tune. It is full of a west coast pop vibe. Don’t miss the tempo switch up in the second third of the song. The song “Delicious” is as sweet sonically as the song’s title. It is a breakup song where Vee sings that the abandoning lover will eventually regret leaving her behind. It is saucy and brazen with flashes of Shirley Manson’s moxie. The song is sweetly addictive.
From the ethereal heights of the prior songs “Real Eyes” is a darker song and more classical gloom pop in style. It contains flecks of The Cure, Hole and Belly, best described as elegiac with a pop kick. “So Hard” is the track I see as the most radio friendly of the release. It has great rhythm and you can hear the come hither in Vee’s vocal delivery making it what I like to call a “convertible” song.
“Sleep it Off” has a fantastic Cure “Just Like Heaven” bass line that is beautifully blended with a cool dreamy vocal and gothic accompanying undertones. It again serves Vee’s vocals very well. “Kiss the Dust” is a “must hear track” of the album. It is a leather clad tune that is a combination of tough chick song and Jesus and the Mary Chain sound circa “Automatic”. I simply love the vibe of this song and Vee’s earthy vocal on the track contrasts nicely with the ethereal heights Vee often inhabits on her other vocals.
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The final tune, “Rock N Roll” is not the frenetic rock tune you would expect from the title but an acoustic treatment. Here is an existential examination of the push and pull of Rock and Roll. The song examines the joy and agony of Rock and Roll as it affects your life when an artist. Rock and roll is both the savior and the curse to those infected with the drive to be involved in the medium. “It is just Rock and Roll so lose your ego…I sold my soul and then you walk away.” The song is in parts wistful and realistic, a touching outré to the album.
Jennie Vee on “Spying” has released a very worthy album. She is summonsing the sounds of some of the most stellar bands of the 80’s and 90’s and reinterpreting them for a new generation. The orchestration and production on the album deserves praise. The album is a splendid full length debut that justifies the build up to its release and everyone involved in its creation should be proud. Ms Vee has built a solid foundation to continue her forward progression in the music business.