Nico Vega is a Los Angeles based trio comprised of singer Aja Volman, guitarist Rich Koehler, and drummer Dan Epand. The formed in 2005 and are known for a having a blues rock sound with added synths and Volman’s passionate vocals. This can be heard on the band’s self-titled debut album which came out in 2009. We are giving in a listen now in anticipation of the bands sophomore effort to be release this spring.
What really makes Nico Vega stand out are Volman’s vocals. The music works well with her, but she an artist that channels vocalists like Janis Joplin and Karen O and is certainly the band’s focal point. She has this deep sultry voice that most girls probably hated having while growing up, but makes for awesome vocals if you’re willing join a rock band. I think the vocals remind me of Ida Maria a lot.
On a song like “Be Giving” you can get a good sense of Volman’s ferocious growl and singing. At times Nico Vega will rock out, other times they will get more emotional, and they will even kick out an anthem like “Wooden Dolls” from time to time. For me “Living Underground” was probably the best tune on the album. It has a nice pop hook to it, but takes you in a distorted rock path as well. It really has some nice highs and lows to it and seems to hit just where it needs to at all the right times. “Rabbit in the Bag” is also impressive in its balance, but more of a Zeppelin or Cult style rocker.
For those of you looking for more of a comparison, Nico Vega has been compared to the blues rock style of the White Stripes. I would say they remind me more of The Dead Weather though. Nico Vega has a fuller sound to them, and you get more of that seductive rage vibe with Volman like you do with Alison Mosshart in The Dead Weather and, her other band, The Kills.
In total you get 14 tracks on Nico Vega and it clocks in around 47 minutes. It shows a nice bit of range for this band. While Volman stars with her vocals and lyrics (and apparently her live performance as well from what it sounds like), the band really complements her nicely here. The songs fit her nicely, be it ballads or rockers. My only complaint about the album would really have to be that the 14 tracks seems like a few too many for a debut. They could take off a couple of the more similar sounding tunes for a later release. Still, Nico Vega is certainly primed for bigger and better things based on what we hear on Nico Vega.
Nico Vega’s follow-up album will be out later this year and is entitled We Are the Art. It sounds as if this will be a more complete record based on the maturation of the band as both musicians and people. I guess time will tell.
Key Tracks: Living Underground, Be Giving, Family Train, Rabbit in the Bag
Kevin Kozel - Sr. MuzikReviews.com Staff
January 18, 2013