December 11th, 2017 | Album reviews

Meander Belt EP

Named after the city Val Verde in Northwestern L.A. county, Derde Verde is three dudes making a uniquely space-y and soundscape-y kind of indie rock. After four successful singles, Dylan McKenzie (lead vocals/guitar) Jonathan Schwarz (bass/vocals), and Matthias Wagner (drums) combine their earlier releases and add one new track for their debut EP Meander Belt. Derde Verde’s songs depict open skies and barren lands with a wide-open lonesome sound, something that might inspire familiar feelings for fans of the Shins and Grizzly Bear. Some tracks slip into psychedelic rock; others are more sparse and reflective. Opener “Days of Drought” is the most intense, invoking a dystopian scene as it unravels into a wailing lead guitar break. “Staring into Dying Light,” begins with stark strumming and reverbed vocals and drums as McKenzie’s lyrics warn, “It’s not gonna turn back time / staring into dying light / I don’t want to turn back time.” The echoes and percussion somehow evoke a particularly Midwestern isolation—flat lands, empty skies—but the song soon leaves the planet completely for something more cosmic, a direction evident to some extent in each track on the EP. “Turn” hums with energy—beautiful and nostalgic, it’s driven by powerful lead guitar and relentless drumming. “Fear is my favorite friend / she’s coming back again / I don’t know if I’m gonna get out of it / Want to run but I wouldn’t be proud of it,” sings McKenzie as the rhythm swells. And then his last request: “Don’t make me turn,” he sings, as the song sinks into the somber sound of a beeping EKG.

—Geneva Trelease