Who are The Visitations, and why might you care? If you've got any stock in the southern pop renaissance of Elephant Six, you'll probably want to find out. Unlike the myriad of bands that get compared to the trashy/beautiful output of Elephant Six associated bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and of Montreal, The Visitations aren't sound-alikes but actually Athens-based contemporaries. Wrathgabar takes a cynical but equally fun approach to lyricism and melody.
The Visitations are doing their best to keep the tradition alive, playing tunes that are at times trippy, folky, fuzzy or just plain weird. Frontman Dave Wrathbager will go the troubadour route.
The Washington Post
The Visitations is one of those "lo-fi" artists who manage to make home recording into a big production. That helps him explore his curious approach to songwriting on the band's latest album, aptly named The Conundrum Tree. He adorns his playful and moody pop with everything from squishy synth noises to simple acoustic guitar lines to drum machines to all manner of harder-to-identify squiggles and drones. While there's plenty in his lyrics that's direct and conversational ("Jonathan, dear friend, you're an asshole," goes the chorus of "Jonathan Asshole"), Wrathgaber's thematic searching makes it easy to get mystified with lines like "we make love just like a bowl of old spaghetti" on the title track.
Although hyped as psych folk, the band is not so much psychedelic as it is comfortably schizophrenic. Its new album, The Conundrum Tree, is multifaceted and diverse; songs like ìFresh Dogî perfectly mix ìWe Got the Beatî with ìSister Ray,î while ìBony Maurineî reflects the ringing regional sound so clearly that it sounds like Mike freakiní Mills actually sings it. Apparently, Wrathgaberís talent lies in tweaking the delicious Athens recipe and baking something that tastes a little less sweet ó and a lot more dreamy.
The Visitations - The Conundrum Tree
(Performer Magazine, full review)
Longtime Elephant 6 collaborator and Athens, Ga. powerhouse Davey Wrathgaber is back with a third Visitations album. And itís the best so far. Demonstrating a sound that has fully developed in the psych-folk vein, itís a style that Athens natives will certainly be familiar with. The Visitations have keenly crafted their spaced-out dissonance with literary and comical lyrics that often echo early Flaming Lips.
The Conundrum Tree offers a lush sonic landscape full of peculiar and often unidentifiable ìinstrumentsî that offer a perfect counterpoint to Wrathgaberís whiteboy deadpan vocals. The barrage of strange elements, which may have easily led other bands to muddled chaos, is expertly wrapped into dreamy melodies and mid-tempo rockers by Wrathgaber and bandmate Derek Almstead.
But the hands-down show-stealers here are the lyrics. Tinkering with themes of love and hate, Wathgaber paints vivid and humorous images with lines like, ìWe make love just like a bowl of old spaghetti / Somewhere between the heaven and the dirt,î and draws rambling psychedelic fables like ìMs. Brownís Robotî about a lonely woman falling in love with her cybernetic companion. Thereís a lot to be found on these 10 tracks, enough to require several consecutive listenings.
If the album itself wasnít enough, the disc contains a treasure trove of extras: everything from art and old show fliers to a couple of extra albums worth of mp3s lifted from their previous releases. This is an absolutely essential addition to Athens psych-pop catalogue and certainly worth the time to seek out. (Orange Twin Records)