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Not setting out to be a “girl group,” the chips have fallen that way for Vervein, and audiences have fallen for their “Girl-Swirl” sound. Vervein weaves together the ethereal vocals of Mazzy Star and Azure Ray, the dreamy atmospherics of American Analog Set and Galaxie 500, the rhythmic propulsions of the Breeders, the soundscapes of Godspeed You Black Emperor!, and the melodic sensibilities of Death Cab for Cutie.

Vervein was founded by Jess Congdon (guitar, vocals, keyboards) and Esther Reyes (guitar, cello) in 2001. Both classically trained musicians, they were drawn together in San Francisco by a shared desire to make guitar-based rock/pop on their own terms. According to Congdon, “We wanted to be free from the usual tiresome wankery.” Congdon and Reyes wear their classical upbringing on their sleeves with intricate arrangements, atypical song structures, and contrasting dynamics. They both fell fast for Rachel Stevenson (bass/baritone guitar, vocals) who joined after moving from Seattle in 2002, providing a rhythmic pulse and lilting vocals to Vervein’s sound. Emily Marsh (drums), a longtime collaborator with Stevenson, returned to the Bay Area from Seattle at the end of 2004 to add her intricately percussive chops.

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