Over a decade and a half ago, one of Greensboro, N.C.’s strongest bands was The Raymond Brake, an idiosyncratic quintet that earned favorable comparisons to the likes of The Grifters and Polvo. When The Raymond Brake ground to a screeching halt (sorry, couldn’t resist) in 1998, guitarist/vocalist Andy Cabic packed up and headed for San Francisco, where he eventually found himself in a musical circle that included Devandra Banhart and Joanna Newsom.
Taking a cue from his Freak Folk peers, Cabic hooked up with guitarist Sanders Trippe and bassist Brent Dunn from old Greensboro scenemates Rebar and assembled a new band that he dubbed Vetiver (after a type of tropical grass) and began exploring a gently psychedelic Folk direction with occasional help from his scene friends; Vetiver’s 2004 eponymous debut featured Banhart, Newsom, ex-Mazzy Star vocalist Hope Sandoval and My Bloody Valentine’s Colm O’Ciosoig.
Since then, Cabic has become a fixture in Banhart’s road band, which has helped the young guitarist grow and mature. Vetiver released a pair of albums (2006’s To Find Me Gone, 2008’s cover-laden Thing of the Past) before signing with Sub Pop for the band’s fourth album, last year’s Tight Knit. Thing of the Past (and the companion More of the Past EP) found Cabic and Vetiver inhabiting the trippy Country of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and from the sound of Tight Knit it was a beneficial exercise, as Cabic now exudes that same vibe in his writing as Vetiver does in their playing.
It’s not difficult to pick out shades of the Grateful Dead and Gene Clark in Vetiver’s sound, but it’s not distractive either. Cabic’s songs and Vetiver’s execution are breezy and light (“More of This,” “Through the Front Door”) and even when they get slightly denser (“Another Reason to Go,” “Strictly Rule”), it’s clear they’re cut from the same sensitive bolt. For any fan of cosmic Folk, Vetiver has the right vintage stuff.
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