A Posthumous Collection of Valium Eel Songs Hits Band Camp
The Maryland music community has lost some well-known figures in April, including Childâ€™s Play frontman Brian Jack and Music Monthly publisher Susie Mudd. One passing that flew under the radar, however, was Vivek Muralidhar, who recorded songs under the band name Valium Eel, and died earlier this month.
I first heard Valium Eel last year, when I sat down with Baltimore musician Jon Ehrens of White Life for a lengthy rundown of the many bands and recording projects heâ€™s had over the years. He mentioned one of his earliest band experiences, playing drums for one of his classmates at Walt Whitman High School.
Muralidhar and Ehrens met when both attended Walt Whitman; Muralidhar later attended the Unversity of Maryland, College Park, before moving to Minnesota, where he died. From 2000 to 2005, Muralidhar recorded a number of Valium Eel songs, sometimes playing all the instruments, sometimes with Ehrens or Justin Shapiro on drums. In light of the sad news, Ehrens decided to memorialize his friend by uploading a collection of those songs to Band Camp as a free download.
The nine Valium Eel songs featured on the Band Camp page feature a variety of sounds and moods within the spectrum of lo-fi indie rock, from minimal acoustic tracks to full-band rockers. The aptly titled â€śTangledâ€ť is a peppy, tightly coiled array of jangly riffs and caffeinated drum fills, while the stark opener â€śCall Me Aroundâ€ť is a direct voice-and-guitar recording.
Telling me about Muralidhar last year, Ehrens gushed, â€śMan, I didnâ€™t really understand how to write a song until he gave me a tape of his songs. And it was just insane to me. He was really young, like a year or two older than me, and he was just so fucking good, it really upped the ante.â€ť And if the rest of us didnâ€™t know this young man, we can at least mourn the sadly unrealized potential of the songwriter heard on these recordings.