Blood Red Velvet

Romeo's Bones

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In January 2004, Delvian released two Blood Red Velvet albums simultaneously: Romeo's Bones and Born Among the Ruins. Stylistically, there is little, if any, difference between them; both albums bring to mind R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs, and both albums will easily appeal to those who fancy jangly guitar pop. But if Blood Red Velvet reach the creative finish line on Born Among the Ruins, they accomplish even more on Romeo's Bones -- this time, they pass the finish line and continue to run an extra mile. Born Among the Ruins is an artistic success; Romeo's Bones is an even greater artistic success. And that isn't because Romeo's Bones is any less derivative than Born Among the Ruins. Neither album pretends to point adult alternative or folk-rock in any new directions, which is fine because not every artist who comes along is obligated to be innovative. Inevitably, any form of music will have leaders and followers, and being a follower doesn't mean sacrificing quality. Bebop saxophonist Sonny Stitt, for example, was never the least bit innovative, but he was great at what he did -- Stitt succeeded by sticking with what he did best and wisely left jazz's innovation to trailblazers like John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Ornette Coleman. Blood Red Velvet have nothing to do with jazz, but they do seem to share Stitt's attitude that radical experimentation isn't for everyone -- that musicians can have something meaningful to say even if they aren't overly original. If you're going to be derivative, be derivative in the best sense of the word -- and Romeo's Bones is certainly derivative in a positive way. While Born Among the Ruins is also respectable, Romeo's Bones is the more essential of the two.

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