Saturday, January 18, 2014

Album Review: Vibragun, 'Vibragun

Stop. Scroll up. Push play. My preoccupation with VibraGun’s long awaited debut record began immediately, and I have little doubt that yours will too. The 100% true story is that “Send Me To Dream” was the first thing I heard when I woke up that morning, and by the time I got to the third track, “Dream Disintegrate”, I was already trying to simultaneously navigate PayPal to get my download, and Facebook to tell everyone about it. The message I posted said, “I don't care what you are doing; go download this record from Seattle's VibraGun. This will be one of the best of 2014.” I still mean it; this is an amazing piece of music.

For those audiophiles, like myself, who discovered the early ‘90’s shoegaze aesthetic years after it had been dead and buried, the nu-gaze revival to this point has often been more miss than hit. It seems that the process of exonerating the genre also revived the confusing discussion about what sounds actually made shoegaze up to begin with, which naturally led to dogma. Don’t get me wrong, there are a bunch of killer bands out there (listen to Jetman Jet Team), but many more are just nostalgia acts playing paint by numbers—the individual pieces sound right, but taken together the songs feel scripted.

From the first listen it’s clear that VibraGun are an obvious exception to this argument. For all the things that ‘VibraGun’ has going for it, its most endearing feature is its sonic patina. Far from rehashing a particular influence, Bergstrom and crew have managed to make the record I’ve wanted all along: one that feels so immersive, and so continuous with the space-rock, dream-pop, and shoegaze scenes that dominated the time period, that it’s hard to believe it didn’t spend 20 years in the back of some garage.

In addition, the band’s refusal to stoop to idolatry allows them to play around with a wide variety of approaches. For example, while “Send Me To Dream” and “All The Cool Kids” build on treacherous, Swervedriver-esque guitar riffs, “Dream Disintegrate” and “Get Away” seem more indebted to Ride, or Cocteau Twins due in no small part to Amber Joy Smith’s lovely lead vocals and John West’s mellifluous bass work. “Get Away” also has the benefit of having one of my favorite transitions in recent memory. Just after the 2 minute mark when Smith sings, “I’m just trying to find my way”, the percussion drops away and is replaced by the slow strum of an acoustic guitar. The track then commences the transition to the slow-burning outro that seems like it would be right at home on “A Storm In Heaven”.

These are just a few examples, but I assure you that many more await you. In fact, there really isn’t a bad song on this entire record. Having been slightly bogged down with work for the past week I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate companion than ‘Vibragun’; every time I move on, it seems to bring me right back again. It would truly be a shame if this record didn’t get the praise it sincerely deserves. 

Download your copy of 'VibraGun' from their BC here, and don't forget to check them out on Februrary 6th at LoFi with Red Martian, Dirty Sidewalks, and Balms

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