05 April 2006

A Samoan Lawyer Rides with the Factory Team

The Vincent Black Shadow - s/t
Heartbreak Beat Records
7 March 2006
4 stars

I never really got into the whole garage rock revival thing when it first happened a few years back. It was fun enough as party background music, but other than that I found little substance to dive into. However, when it's done right, a simple, raw rock song can punch you right in the gut and make you move. And this type of gut-punching is what The Vincent Black Shadow specialize in.

Like a little piece of Detroit raised up in Baltimore; The VBS's eponymous debut is engine-revving music. True to form it's certainly a fun record to listen to and would make a great soundtrack to a drag race movie (the NYC subway doesn't quite cut it in this regard). But like their name suggests, they're not the hot-rod type. This is for the acid-head biker gang.

While most of the old 'garage-rock' stuff I've heard is quite stripped-down, these songs are simply structured without being weak. There is plenty of raw energy, but I think it's the psychedelic elements that really make this more than a simple rock album. The distortion is thick and fuzzy with plenty of head-trip wah added to great effect and the dirty production values complement the driving rhythms and whisky-soaked vocals. It really sounds like the band went into their practice spot drunk, decided to drop acid and then started playing as they came up. The album drops hints early, then fully delves into psychedelia with track 4, "Colors & Feelings." From that point on the psych elements are much more pronounced. It's a short album (only 30 minutes long) that leaves me wanting more; something that I find very important. Overall I have to say that I was very impressed with this release so I must recommend checking these guys out.

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