By Tony Sokol
Veal has the reputation of being the tastiest meat but that succulence comes at a cruel cost. Cute little baby cows, inasmuch as cows can be cute, are birthed and fed infant formula and grow quickly in a soft lump of meat you can eat without a knife. Their existences play out in small dark crates where they can’t even turn around. The Brooklyn-based psychedelic country group Veal Estate has broken down their sound to a mere guitar and drums.
Love Sick Records released their debut album, “Calf Life,” on July 28. The album explores breaking out as an artist caged by gentrification.
We force these young calves into boxes all for some imagined future payoff,” drummer Jesse Lent said. “It’s really not that far out as a metaphor for what us creative types do as we squeeze ourselves into tiny apartments for what we hope will work out down the road.”
Veal Estate consists of comedian-turned-frontman Craig Friedman on guitar and Jesse Lent of The Monte Vista and CSC Funk Band (a 10-piece outfit featuring members of Gwar, The USA IS A Monster, talibam! and Bad Manners). The duo delivers “a darkly humorous take on the difficulties of finding success outside the mainstream in an increasingly money-driven city,” according to their press.
“Veal is a food with questionable origins,” Lent said, explaining the band’s name.
“It’s indicative of the music, lightly severe,” Friedman said with a menacing laugh.
Veal Estate is more than “just a pun about baby cows headed to the slaughterhouse, the songs on Calf Life also explore the world beyond just being another struggling artist in Brooklyn,” their press release reads.
“It’s been eight years since Jesse and I started jamming together at his old rehearsal space on the same block as Trash Bar in Williamsburg, before that whole neighborhood changed,” Friedman said regarding the vast array of topics covered on the album. “It’s not that weird to cover a lot of ground over such a long period of time.”
“Calf Life” runs through a diverse range of moods, from the angst-ridden riff on breaking off an impending wedding engagement (“Whoa Woman”) to an Orwellian character study through the use of barnyard animals (“Chicken And The Pigs”).
The album matches that with a kaleidoscope of sounds, a decision that Lent, who produced the album, says has to do with their own taste.
“Our favorite records, like ‘The White Album’ or Dylan’s ‘Basement Tapes’ go a million different places through the course of the album,” Lent said.