Versus – Two Cents Plus Tax – Review


Two Cents Plus Tax (Caroline)
by Jamie Kiffel

With jab-attack, forward-thrusting vocals reminiscent of Gibby Haynes’ humanoid dog barks, Versus rushes wide-eyed and ready into “Atomic Boy,” the first track on Two Cents Plus Tax. Following a warning that we are past the fail-safe point, mad bursts of vocal volume brace us for an unstable mixture of musical compounds. While Versus does carry out its promise of an unpredictable atmosphere and free-flying widgets of sound, this unfortunately means that the songs here include, among a smattering of fortunate molecular encounters, a proportionate balance of common, thin, helium aggregates. The latter include the sort of tune that the current alternative market is, of late, so prone to produce without a concentrated effort to keep the elements from conjoining: atonal, soprano guitar strummed in a metronomic way, recorded loud enough to muffle halting, often feminine vocals.

Besides these common aural aggregates, however, Two Cents also includes several original concoctions, including “Jack and Jill,” which sounds like a lounge act being performed to the accompaniment of an unbalanced dishwasher, while glooby bass suggests placing the whole scene at the bottom of a bubbling fish tank; the space odyssey “Mouth of Heaven” in which repeated static suggests a snoring dial tone, and finally, several songs in which a salt of bizarre lyrics pleasantly pock the alterna-sound surface; for example, “Underground,” in which we meet a girl who “wears bikinis in the movies” (the idea is enough to raise goosebumps on popcorn). Versus’ lab is sputtering with brainbuzz, but it has yet to perfect its ability to keep its concoctions from getting trapped between synapses.
(104 West 29th Street 4th Floor, New York, NY 10001)