Radio-friendly punk rock for the masses, Favorite Scar at first comes off as just another in a long line of pop-punk bands. Given time, though, The Vanished's songs slowly creep their way into your skull and set up shop. Hours, days, weeks later, you'll be humming a tune -- not realizing the song -- and lo and behold, it's something from this album. "Favorite Scar" is among the set's catchiest, and stereotypical teenage angst-ridden lyrics aside, it's a great song.
Although this Dallas band's music is certainly not for everyone, and indie snobs will scoff at finding anything positive about the band, listeners could do a lot worse. Look at it this way: you want to rock, yet you hate the radio. At least this isn't Good Charlotte. (DAC)
(Kirtland Records -- 3100 Main St. Suite 347 Dallas, TX. 75226; http://www.kirtlandrecords.com/; The Vanished -- http://www.thevanished.com/)
On their Myspace site (http://www.myspace.com/vapor), Vapor bassist Trevor Smith says, "On the surface our songs may feel familiar, but you soon recognize the different musical approaches that we've created and you find yourself involved on a whole new level." With that quote, he puts a finger on the same feeling I had when I first heard their self titled CD. I swore that I had heard this before...that I knew it from somewhere. (Turns out I had heard them on 94.5FM's Texas Buzz show, but that's beside the point.)
Though a scant five songs, this CD gives a good sense of who this band is and the music they're about. "Listening" has atmospheric guitar accompanying the emotional vocals, which together express the waste and loss that is going on all around us right now. (This song is re-titled "Whispers" on their Myspace player, FYI.) They definitely don't stick to the formulaic lyrics most pop-rock bands produce, by the way. Through every song there is underlying harmony that gives their music a full and rounded sound.
They remind me a lot of 3 Doors Down or Nickelback -- I think the only place they really stray from this is "Go On," which to me is so produced and clean-sounding, I could see it as a song featured on the O.C. or in an '80s teen movie. It's a lot slower and more love-lorn than the other tracks, as well, which may be where this opinion is coming from. Overall, this is a CD that well represents Vapor as a Texas band with a good rock foundation and poppy vocals. (JR)
(Connoisseur Records -- P.O. Box 2299, Spring, TX. 77383-2299; Vapor -- http://www.vaporband.com/)
Tracks and Fields
Tracks and Fields is the second two-CD set in a new Kill Rock Stars trilogy, the first part of which was 2002's Fields and Streams, and it forces me to ask: how the heck do you review these compilations? There are 41 tracks of goodness here, and not all necessarily by KRS folk, but some just by people they dig. Some of the tracks I dug, too, others I did not dig at first but came to later dig, and still others I'm not so sure if I dig or not. It's hard to sequence these masses of music, but overall this works as a comp (and is in any case quite a value). Despite its wide-ranging sampling of indie sound, a certain aesthetic does eventually emerge. One of the cool parts is that you are guaranteed not to have heard of, let alone heard, all of the acts on here, so you just might learn something.
I will now attempt to review every song; see if you can keep track of the musical field. 1) Weird voice, but I'm not liking that, either. 2) Nice guitar & violin. 3) His name is alive, sounding disturbingly R&B. 4) Totally rocking Superchunk song. 5) Beware the elf people. 6) Low-key. 7) Rawk. 8) Organ garage rock with a funny change-up. 9) Someone's got a drum machine in their bedroom. 10) Pretty acoustic repetition. 11) Okay, this is probably my favorite song on the album -- "Birds in the Sky" by some group called Lovers; beautiful and heartfelt, I dig. 12) Some live Xiu Xiu in solo electric mode; he plays it like he means it, man. 13) "Ghost Boobs" live. 14) It's Billy Childish's new group, of course it's good. 15) A catchy, catchy tune. 16) Slowly revs. 17) Tedious. 18) Almost a capella. 19) A tasty slice o'sludge. 20) Cows-tastic. 21) Nice Sparks cover. 22) The '80s are back. And 23), pretty and acoustic.
And on to disc two... 1) Sorry, but the recording is just too lo-fi. 2) Nice song. 3) Foreboding bassy goodness. 4) That what is not PiL. 5) Electro. 6) Melts like a banana. 7) Out of chaos, order? 8) Elegy by Thurston. 9) Evil-sounding chase theme. 10) It's the voice. 11) Pretty song. 12) Singer-songwriter. 13) Sweet, with the "la-las." 14) Nordic garage rock. 15) Trashy like rock should often be. 16) Nine-minute metal epic. 17) Drone-folk. And 18), the type of goodness we've come to expect from the Decemberists. And there you have it. (CP)
(Kill Rock Stars -- 120 NE State Ave. PMB 418, Olympia, WA. 98501; http://www.killrockstars.com/)