“Eyes” By The Mary Veils
The Mary Veils began as the solo project of frontman Brian Von Uff is now a fully-fledged, incendiary punk four-piece, with drummer Evan Wall, guitarist Drew Mann and bassist Justin Mansor rounding out the new lineup. Von Uff’s debut EP under the Mary Veils name, 2017’s Slacker Paint (re-released by PNKSLM last year) so enthused Wall as to tempt him back behind the kit after a break from drumming, and caught the attention of Mann and Mansor of fellow Philadelphia noiseniks Hot Lunch, who quickly followed Wall in jumping on board. “And it’s been like Beatlemania ever since,” laughs Mann.
Such is the shared musical language between the four that their first jams immediately, and almost wordlessly, bore fruit. The furious, freewheeling singles “Home Video” and “Rowboat” were amongst a glut of songs that came together at breakneck pace, and made up half of the first four-track EP from The Mary Veils as a full band, last November’s Somewhere Over the Rowhome. “I probably did it the wrong way around,” says Von Uff of the jump from solo project to four-piece. “I wish these dudes were around from the beginning, because they bring so much personality to the songs, and the new material came together really easily.”
The album was tracked swiftly and entirely live, within a few months of the new lineup coming together, over a number of weekends at Jessie Gimbel’s basement studio in Upper Darby, PA. Once Esoteric Hex had been mixed by Cory Hanson and Jeff Zeigler — who between them have worked with the likes of The War on Drugs, Ty Segall and Kurt Vile — The Mary Veils were ready to unleash this mission statement of a record upon the world, only for fate to intervene. “We’ve been sitting on the album since the start of the pandemic,” says Von Uff.
Taking their cues from the classic punk of New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders and The Dickies, as well as more contemporary influences like Osees and Hot Snakes, the Mary Veils’ musical DNA is one rooted deeply in the intersection between riffery and melody; the album walks a tightrope between the rock and roll fizz of opener “Bone Blossom Green” or the spiraling guitar scuzz of “A Tether,” and the psych-tinged, hook-driven likes of “Circled Omens” and “Fuzzy.” At the centre of what makes Esoteric Hex tick, though, is the band’s hometown itself; as Von Uff explains, this is a love letter to Philly.
“Philadelphia is a very unique place, and while it’s a major city, it’s kind of the forgotten cousin of New York. It’s the abandoned capital of the United States, but we like the abuse. This album is in many ways about Philadelphia, and how the people here are unique and have that fighting mentality. We all want to keep getting better, and we don’t ever quit.”
It’s the city’s storied tradition of mysticism and the occult, meanwhile, that accounts for much of the record’s imagery, as well as its evocative title. “Theosophy itself was born in Philadelphia,” says Von Uff. “The city resides on the 40th Parallel, the same as the old church of Philadelphia in ancient Turkey, that was mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Secret societies, mysticism, the occult — they’re all part of the city’s history, and we wanted to explore that.”
The Mary Veils
01. Bone Blossom Green
03. Esoteric Hex
04. Circled Omens
06. Follow Me
07. A Tether
09. Fuzzy 95
10. The Turnspit
Purchase Esoteric Hex by The Mary Veils HERE
Looking for something new to listen to?
Sign up to our all-new newsletter for top-notch reviews, news, videos and playlists.