Thursday, May 14, 2009
CD REVIEW: Vultures! "...The Very Best Of"
"...The Very Best Of" (2009, Rockerie Records)
Engineered, Produced, Mixed & Mastered by Scott Warren & Andy Langmuir
Co-Produced by Vultures!
First up, you have to understand that the four members of Vultures! have a sense of humour alongside their collective musical prowess. Despite being called The Very Best Of, their debut release is actually a 4-song EP showcasing a raucous 16-minute introduction to the latest conglomeration of musicians to sweat it out on Windsor's dirty stages.
The band may or may not be familiar to many of you (despite a barrage of early shows), but the members are by no means rookies. Lead vocalist and bassist Anderson Lunau has been cutting his teeth in bands for years - he's been in such favourites as Somatose, Mr. Bones, Dead Heat, Caught in the Moss, Bombast and The Golden Hands Before God... over the years. Drummer Scott Warren previously played with Lunau in Bombast and Somatose, before temporarily leaving the kit to front Lone Locust last year. Guitarist Andy Langmuir, also from Bombast with Warren and Lunau, was also part of the two-guitar attack in Lone Locust. And Moogster and vocalist Kimberly Ann Kukoraitis is widely acclaimed from her one-woman performances under the moniker This Is Me As A Woman.
But listening to their EP, it's evident you don't need to know any of their collective histories to enjoy the sonic nuggets found within.
The lead off track, "Kobe, Don't Be Rapin'", starts off with a nice rock jaunt that introduces you to the unique vocals of Lunau and slowly introduces you to the swagger of the band. It's not the best album on the track, but it's a great choice as the start-up - it's like the beginning of a movie, where you can picture Anderson singing this song as he's bopping along on a nice summer walk through the neighbourhood. It gradually picks up steam and Kimberly throws in some nice call-and-answer vocals peppered throughout the chorus to create a thoroughly enjoyable summer rock and roll song.
Now that you're prepared for the sounds to come, it's followed by "Geez, Us", another solid song for the warm days ahead. It's become clear that these guys know something many bands seem to forget - how to write a great song. From start to finish, their songs have great structure, great flow, big hooks and solid production. They aren't trying to re-invent any rock and roll wheels, they aren't trying to show off how many octaves they can hit or how fast they can play their instruments, they're just bringing a collective knowledge of rocking and rolling and putting it down on CD. Andy Langmuir - someone I've long thought was one of Windsor's most under-rated if not under-appreciated guitar players - shines this point masterfully here as well. On a brief solo in "Geez, Us", instead of shredding and overkilling the simplicity of the song around him, he deftly plays just the right about of notes and the right amount of time, to show that you don't have to blow your fretboard load to put your stamp on a song.
My favourite song on the track is the third, "(Nothing Worth Having) Is Easy", whose big chorus 'I love you too/and everything that we're going through' screams to be sung along to at shows. One of the few carryover tracks from Lunau, Warren and Langmuir's days in Bombast, it has been beefed up and enhanced (thanks in part to the atmospheric twiddlings of Kukoraitis and her Moog) to become a fresh Vultures! track instead of a relic to a past project. Driving and charging, this is the stand-out fist pumper of the collection.
The EP closes out with an electro-rock instrumental of sorts called "Punch The One You're With" that finally unleashes the instrumental dexterity (the "thunder" if you will) that each member can ultimately bring to the rock and roll round table. There's some space-agey Moog noodlings, some huge drums, undulating bass lines and some thick and juicy guitar riffing, all compacted into a great scene closer for the 16-minute intro to the world of the Vultures!
It was only after repeated listens that it came to me. Lunau's voice is eerily similar to Colin Hay from Men at Work. I don't mean that in a bad way at all in case any of you think I'm poking fun (listen to Hay's voice on the Garden State soundtrack song "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You"), it just came to me sort of matter-of-factly. So if you're looking for some sort of rock and roll comparison, think if Colin Hay fronted a band that was made up of all the members of Queens of the Stone Age, and they combined their hook ability with their rockability and you'll get a notion of where Vultures! is headed. Where they ultimately end up is completely up to them though.
Vultures! is having their official CD release party this Friday May 15th at Phog Lounge (157 University Ave. West) with special guests Bare Trees (Toronto, ON).