The Vacant Smiles


Just like everyone I get caught up in the release cycles and tend to focus too often on what’s coming up rather than letting what’s already here settle into the system. It’s tough not to, and when cranking out something like 260 reviews a year, I gotta remember take a breath and go back and enjoy the records that stick. I’m honestly going to make that effort and in that spirit here’s one that I definitely missed the first time around when it came out a few years back. I found the connection this year in reviewing an equally under-appreciated gem from Aussies Quality Used Cars. The bands share a member in Francis Tait, but the similarities wane there. While QUC, leans towards the indie-scratched ramble of modern Aussie bands tinged with a great deal of country cool, The Vacant Smiles bound into a brand of garage-psych that’s exploding with colors and chewing on thick hooks.

There’s some California hangover going on here, with a bit of the kind of Meatbodies/Freedom Band fuzz caked in there, early Mikal Cronin and perhaps a bit of Frankie and the Witch Fingers in their sound. Yet, the band also brings a certain countrified twang to the affair, adding a thicker, more psychedelic take on what The Strange Boys were working at. Drums pound breathlessly, electric leads tear themselves to shreds, while acoustic strums scratch out an intangible shimmy. When the hooks hit, they bite down hard into the brain with a restless venom. The album seems to have been left to linger, to wander through Bandcamp tag clouds looking for some proper love. Seems that tapes are still available and there’s plenty of digital to pad your drive, so I’d recommend sliding the band a few bucks to let this one give the coming summer a bit of buzz.

Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

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