Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacant Fever - Heparin and Saline self released full length

The guys from Vacant Fever sent me their self released single a while back and I was surprised to get this in the mail being a full length and all... since then I've been throwing this multicolor mud vinyl (carefully) on the turntable here and there and keep getting back into the echo's of Seattle sound that these guys won't shake off. The duo has elements of the Black Keys and the craft and sound of guys probably twice their age, but there's something about DMM's raspy low vocals that has the weight of experience and with just the two of them carrying this sound, they've been used to that harsh spotlight and run the paces of solid heavy riffs and smashing percussion.

A-Side's , "You Shouldn't Let Poets Lie To You" has a real southern rock feel and it keeps blowing me away this is a duo, there has to be a lot of tracking and post stuff going on here, but it's nothing that's evident right off the bat, it's just a massive dense sound that's unexpected. They're dead eye focused on the natural big riff while managing to keep things simple without ever being obvious. The long solo melody line off that main riff is complex and calculated even this complete meltdown is measured, playing above the fretboard, the high plinking is in the middle of balancing a lot of elements here, a raw, distorted guitar line with this echo vocal. "A Hospital Isn't a Place" has another big riff driving this one, in spirit something like the Pixies, all about the big gutsy riffs, finding that memorable line and then digging in deep, with Leon poised to kill it on some elongated complex fill at any moment.

"Bit Crush" has as you would imagine some deep bellowing low end guitars, and a jangle kicks in over the dirty, sort of blues groove. DMM's got some attitude vocally here, well let's say definitely confident and a little bit snide, he can't be bothered?...or intensely serious. A slight distortion coloring the vocal in this sludgy slow number reminding me of that Superfuzz Bigmuff sound, of course recorded in Seattle coincidentally. Milk music and Broken Water, this sludgy thick guitar sound has to be lurking in the woods or something.
Could they be combining that Northwestern thick rock sound with a little bit of pysche, foregoing the garage for something slightly more mystical? I like the crazy high strung toms in this one, or is that the snare, lots of pingy high fills, which shouldn't make sense against this deep hyptnotic groove, but Leon's been waiting to pull that new sound out. Chalk it up to their subtle experimental lean which keeps popping up nearly every track. Like in "Ctrl Alt Delete" where they get a little more delicate with the jangle guitar and tremble echo vocal, over a sitar-ish higher guitar melody. Or going for the definite psych references on "Red Feather". The tambourine staple riding hard under a heavy reverb electric bouncing across the plains. DMM's got a laid back drawl delivery on this one, slowing things down...but not for long, with a massive riff inevitably kicking in, being held down way off in the distance at least. The toms and conga constantly working on this primitive rain dance, fading out to shakers and American Indian samples.

B-Side, title track, "Heparin and Saline" brings back their deceptively simple riff repetition, one layer of slide and another warm reverb. High falsetto vocals this time getting into this repeated heavy groove. But they can't help but to mess with this formula, dropping everything out to just the echoing guitar, after an abrupt stop just because we were probably expecting this to go on forever. "Always a Tourist" echo's a slight Thurston style cool delivery of vocals and repetition of odd chords, it's halfway between those later years of Sonic Youth. "Heavy Leather" switches things up again with a canned sounding drum track and minimal bursts of guitar melody. Heavily processed beats tweak into a feedback chirp. DMM has that soul attitude back under a slight distortion in a kind of demented "Guns in the Sky". "Hide the Knife" has heavy effects on the guitar in a kind of carnivalesque unsettling melody while Leon grounds it with some impressive changing beat styles, super clear with all sorts of jazz and funk flavor beatings oozing all over this one. It's obvious if you give these guys this kind of self imposed restriction, just the two of them hammering out solid grooves like this, they're going to constantly be fighting it. Just when there's any kind of categorizable direction, they've changed things up again in ways that will keep you guessing. "I Die Everynight" is a dense haze of loops fading in, all unrecognizable making way for a wash of ringing tones, a hint of distortion barely rising out of these strange tempo loops in their own undefinable rhythms. Warped backwards enveloped vocals over that slow twisted guitar loop becomes their setup for more seriously heavy headbashing rock, the hypnotizing was just long enough to get comfortable... a perfect example of how they keep defying expectations.
"Casio" smashes together a slide guitar and the auto chord demo bleep of the cheapest keyboard videogame melody in an attempt to pull out every last trick in that bag, and I get the feeling it's not that they are trying desperately to veer away from the heavy rock riff centered album in fear of being typecast, it's that they can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar. They're such obviously talented guys, they're easily bored with that setup and keep testing their own boundaries and the obvious direction of any given track. Combining all those progressive rock, shoegaze, psych references into a solid display of surprise.

The vinyl is currently sold out from the band, guess I was late getting to this one, sorry guys. Multicolor mess vinyl, like every color gumball squashed on the turntyable, with lyric insert and "Dedicated to dead people". Get it from these guys direct at their bandcamp.

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