Little of Floyd Kellogg’s previous musical output hinted at the sound of Violent Mae, his new band with singer, songwriter and guitarist Becky Kessler. Kellogg played bass in the Connecticut funk outfit Adios Pantalones before honing a quirky brand of propulsive alt-rock with You Scream I Scream, which released its second album earlier this year. Violent Mae is a different beast altogether.
Kessler and Kellogg make dreamy, low-key pop that is largely defined by their use of space. Well, that and Kessler’s dusky vocals, which call to mind Beach House singer Victoria LeGrande’s, or sometimes even Cat Power’s. Kessler sings in throaty subdued tones, her voice supported by minimalist song arrangements that are at their strongest when they are reduced to spare guitar accompaniment on “Long Hard Wait” or “Worn Out My Welcome,” which adds banjo accents for good measure.
Other songs have fuller structure, with crumbly guitar and a deep rhythmic pocket on opener “Later On” and a stormy mix of guitars and drums on “No Way Out.” Kessler’s voice is the unwavering focus, though, ebbing and flowing over a viscous guitar on “Hole in My Heart” and sounding at once weary and yearning amid tendrils of guitar on “Any Time You Fall.” Together, Kessler and Kellogg have created a striking sound on an album that is the sonic equivalent of a slow, deep embrace.
Violent Mae performs Dec. 6 at the Arch Street Tavern in Hartford with Modern Merchant.