Vulva Culture don’t sound like a Halifax band

The touring four-piece bring energetic gloom to the Silver Dollar


VULVA CULTURE at the Silver Dollar, Friday, February 19. Rating: NNNN

Vulva Culture don’t sound like they’re from Halifax, which they are.

That isn’t a slight against Halifax (where I’m from, FWIW). And of course there is no single Halifax sound, though a sort of lo-fi, aw-shucks modest, upbeat-but-inward-turned sensibility runs through much of its indie rock output.

Vulva Culture do have the introspective thing going on, but their sound isn’t distinctly of any city, which could explain why it’s resonating beyond the borders of Nova Scotia. There are some shoegaze elements, and rainy-day gloom comes via Amy Vinnedge’s vocals, intoned in equally sensual and mournful ways. It’s almost sigh-singing, an exhalation of all that depresses her. 

Songs are achingly slow, but they never dragged at the band’s Silver Dollar appearance in support of new EP In Vain, thanks to the animated rhythm section of bass player Hannah Guinan and drummer Bianca Palmer. And while Vinnedge’s rhythm guitar swirls and cascades with help from a loaded pedal board, guitarist Kayla Stevens has a sharp, tiny sound and bright, talkative melodies, like little alarm bells that prevent the songs from falling fully into dreamscape territory.

Each member has presence (and art-school cool) and is essential to the overall sound. Vinnedge didn’t interact much with the crowd but gave everything in her confessional, yearning lyrics. One song, which she introduced as being about “sexual frustration” (if I heard correctly), earned a mischievous grin from Guinan. Palmer, meanwhile, threw her whole body into her playful cymbal crashes and tom fills, while Stevens studied her fretboard in earnest. 

The confident, instinctive songwriters of Vulva Culture also know that often you only need three minutes to say what you need to say.

carlag@nowtoronto.com | @carlagillis

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