Everything about the Massachusetts duo MV & EE (and, it would seem, the Golden Road) harkens back to another time. Their music — much like the cover art of Gettin’ Gone, which invokes the purple, black, and white of Harrison’s All Things Must Pass — is a disjointed convergence of all things that have passed. It’s strange that in these times when the music industry is birthing itself violently into the future, so much of the music being released is in retrograde.
Opener “Susquehanna” sets the bar low for the following twelve tracks. This is a sleight of hand, though, even if it’s unintentional: The letdown is not repeated until the eighth track, “Colaed Out.” “The Burden,” understated and mellow, realigns our expectations. Cobbling together John Prine’s “Sam Stone” and Led Zeppelin’s “Going to California,” Matt Valentine (MV) lilts like Win Butler on Valium. This sounds unappealing, but the track is intensely effective, immediately infectious, and extremely listenable. Erika Elder (EE) finally comes to the front of the mix, singing on the traditional “Hammer,” which haunts and hunches through nearly eight minutes.
Gettin’ Gone (some of which, incidentally, features J. Mascis on drums) is like the soundtrack to the nightmare world of Neil Young, the same buzzing guitars sapped of whatever quality makes them not wholly despairing: “Hammer” is the “Stupid Girl” of the Zuma equation, with a distinct negative polarity Young could never quite reach. “Mama My” sees MV increasing these comparative stakes, followed by “Speed Queen” and “Country Fried.”
The best parts of Gettin’ Gone are the subtle, quiet tracks. “I Got Caves in There,” “Day & Night,” and “Home Comfort” deliver on the promise of “The Burden” and are the exposed soul of what MV & EE are doing, the downright honest core of it all, and the golden road on which they should continue to walk.