Friday, August 28, 2009

CD of the Day, 8/28/09: Vinyl Candy-Land

They don't make albums like this any more. (OK, they do, but they're hard to find, which is why I've been blogging here for the past 3 1/2 years). Land is a rarity - a power pop concept album, and it's about the rise and fall of a rock star with the titular name. But to work as a power pop concept album (unlike concept albums in other genres), the individual songs need to stand up as well and here they do.

Vinyl Candy is from LA, and they're Californian through and through. In 2004, they released the outstanding Pacific Ocean Park, which is a must-have for any power popper. Land is their followup, and it's been a painstaking process as this album has been billed to be released at any time over the past couple of years and is finally seeing the light of day. It's an ambitious project and thankfully their reach hasn't exceed their grasp for the most part as they bring hints of touchstones from The Beach Boys to Jellyfish to the table.

After a 20-second cacophony of random sounds, things start off with "I'll Be Fine (Part One)", a bouncy pop number that recalls Jellyfish and their SoCal brethren, Big Kid. The brash "Fan Club History" finds our hero acquiring a fanbase, and "All Along the Way" is a tuneful rocker with some quality guitar work. The Rundgren-esque "Chasing Time" (teamed with a reprise of "I'll Be Fine") features minor keys and synths as Land starts to get the blues over his new life of travel, while "California (Part 2)" - there is no part 1 - serves a fever dream of the idyllilc life left behind for our hero.

The midway point of the disc gives us the winning "Gasoline & Tangerines", which finds the hitherto unfound sweet spot between Jellyfish, Supertramp and Everclear, and the breezy melody of "Living a Lie", which mixes a little 70s Philly soul into the mix. Meanwhile, "Star Struck" is the homage/ripoff of Led Zeppelin's "Trampled Under Foot" that's been sitting out there for 35 years, and the Zep imagery is perfect to illustrate how "Land" has become a jaded, burned-out rocker. The anthemic, cleansing "Want it So Bad" finds our hero downsizing and getting back to basics, and the instrumental "Synthetic Therapy" could serve as the score to the story should it ever be filmed. Things come full circle to close out the album (and the story) with "I'll Be Fine (Part 2)", which recasts the original version as a drunken singalong performed in an intimate venue. One can almost see the "Puppet Show and Spinal Tap" sign in his or her mind's eye.

As I said out at the outset, they don't make too many of 'em like this any more, so make sure you give this a listen all the way through to get the full effect. You'll be glad you did.

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Anonymous said...

If they had a singer that could actually sing, this would be an awesome band. As it is now, it's just not worth it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

Lets discuss...
Some love Andy Sturmers vocals, some its just not their thing.
Some love Robert Plants vocals, others... its just not their thing.
Some love Matt's vocals, others its just not their thing.
If a singers vocals aren't your thing, than say that! But to say that someone cant sing, who clearly was blessed with an incredible gift, is just plain ignorant.

Think before you type.
Choose your words wisely.
If you post comments as a means to boost your fragile self esteem...
Than I'm sure Matt just loves being of service.

Vinyl Candy fan!
PS: I love Matt's vocals!

Anonymous said...

I like this record. Alot. I also liked the first album, Pacific Ocean Park. I think the band is really good and I have seen them live and they were not a disappointment. Good rock-roll that I like to drive fast to with the top down on my car and I find myself humming the lyrics hours after I have stopped the CD. Its refreshing to have new music that doesn't sound like everything else out there on the radio today. That crap the record label forces down our throat and on to the radio so that the public has no choice but heel and obey, like little sheep. I recommend VC to everyone, especially musicians. I think they are a musicians band.

Anonymous said...

I second the 'can't sing' thing. Just awful. Can't carry a tune in a bucket.

Anonymous said...

I disagree I think Vinyl Candy's singer is a vocal master.
Pure genius.

Anonymous said...

Vocal master?!?!? You must also think dog food is culinary excellence.

Anonymous said...

When you respond with dog food, this is obviously a joke and you have never heard one Vinyl Candy song, or you are a person who has a personal bias twords the singer. Either way, why do you waste your time?
Did someone hurt you?
Are you 2 years old?
If your continued meaningless, unwarranted, unintelligent, baseless rants make you feel better about yourself, than mission accomplished.
Quite pathetic.

Unknown said...

I can think of two other recent albums that would definitely be considered "concept" albums, both released this year: The Duckworth Lewis Method which centers on the sport of cricket (of all things); and Lamar Holley's Confessions of a College Student.

Both are well worth investigating.

Daryll Collins said...

The posts of Anonymous are quite suspicious. This album was given a very favorable review on another site and "Anonymous" left a nasty post there too.

Seeing that only rarely does anyone post a comment to the reviews, let alone a negative one, it
would seem that Anonymous has a personal grudge. It adds nothing to the discussion. Plus it doesn't take a whole lot of guts to post something spiteful without disclosing your identity.

I love this album! It's been in constant rotation since I purchased it a few weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Well, this anonymous has only posted here, but it's nice to see I'm not alone. I just don't get it. There's nothing personal, believe me, just love the music and hate to see it f'ed up with a terrible singer. Felt the same way about their first and was hoping it would get better, or at least tweaked a little more with autotune or whatever those music guys do to hide bad vocals.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous keeps coming back.
Im not sure why you continue to bash this great singer with such venom. Really if its NOT YOUR THING Than go listen to whatever you music you do listen to.

I am sure Vinyl Candy only want fans that like what they are doing. Right?

Look if you like Metallica, or Creed, or whatever music you do listen to, than you might NOT LIKE Vinyl Candy.

I would just love to now know why you do what you do?
Seriously.. why are you so hell bent on posting and re-posting these hateful and vindictive remarks about another human? Who you dont even know... a person who lays their heart out there with their music.

Seems like the reviewers are loving the music... and they are the experts! Not some scared pu**y who sits behind his computer and types mean stuff for shiits and giggles about any band because it makes him feel good.

As my father used to say...
"Son, if you have nothing nice to say, than say nothing at all."

Anonymous said...

Hi all!
I gotta agree...
I personally do not like the vocals of Weezer, I think the vocals are virtually unlistenable. Though I do love the bands sound.
Just cant listen to it because of the singer.
But there are people that LOVE THEM!
And follow Rivers to the grave.
Which is wonderful.
Or how I used to LOVE Jon Bon Jovi's voice back in the 80's but now his voice sounds like nails to a chalkboard. But the band by themselves - Amazing.
Still there millions of people who would love to hear him sing again and again.
Which is wonderful, its just not my thing anymore.
Even though I feel this way about Weezer and Bon Jovi, I would NEVER post the kind of horrible remarks that "Anonymous" posted here. Stating "Cant Sing" and the like. Its just plain mean.
I guess my point if you like a band, and not like the singer, than the band just isnt for you.
Leave it at that, and stop seeking out, posting your unsolicited opinion, onto those who actually love a band and would follow them to the grave.
It comes across as intentional and mean spirited.

Much Love,
VC Fan