The Vaccines – The Vaccines EP Review

When a band manages to sell out concerts before even releasing a full-length album, it’s hard not to pay attention.

With just a self-titled EP under their belts, London-based newcomers, The Vaccines, are making waves in the vast ocean of the indie music scene.

Their influences might be vintage—ranging from The Zombies, to The Jesus and Mary Chain, to The Ramones—but the hype surrounding them is completely 21st century. Bloggers and music journalists alike have turned to social networking to spread the word on the next great British band.

Although it’s easy to lump them in the same category with other lo-fi, dream pop bands—like Beach House, Best Coast, and The Drums—The Vaccines manage to rise above the pack with their catchy hooks and punchy lyrics.

On the surface, “Post Break-Up Sex”–the first track off of the EP –sounds like it could be a lost Buddy Holly B-side, with dulcet 50s pop melodies over a pleasantly jangly beat.

But lyrics like, ‘I can’t believe you’re feeling good from/Post break-up sex/That helps you forget your ex/What did you expect from post break-up sex?’ give the song an ironic contrast.

Packing in a lot of punch in less than a minute and a half, “Wreckin’ Ball (Ra Ra Ra)” is the stand-out track on the EP.

Even if The Ramones and The Beach Boys formed a supergroup, and then time warped onto the set of a beach party scene in a raging 1960s surf movie, they probably wouldn’t come up with a song as catchy as this.

Winding down the EP is the more mellow, psychedelic-influenced “Blow It Up.” With its chiming guitars, downtempo beat, and repetitive chorus of ‘Blow/Blow/Blow it up’, this song is the auditory equivalent of getting lost in a kaleidoscope, admiring all of the intricate bejewelled patterns.

Until The Vaccines release a full-length album, The Vaccines – EP is the perfect appetizer to keep your music player satiated.

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The Strokes New Single: Undercover of Darkness

To say that I used to be completely, utterly obsessed with The Strokes is a bit of an understatement.

As a 16 year-old high school girl in 2002, once I heard “Hard To Explain” and “Last Nite”, I never looked back.

I joined their official fan club. I went to as many of their concerts as I could. I posted on their music forum. I bought every single music magazine that featured articles on them. I devoted nearly every single blog post to them. I proudly wore their t-shirts. They were even the muses for my high school art assignments:

Drawing of Julian Casablancas, by Amanda Van West

But, like many young bands on the scene, nothing is permanent. As I grew out of my teeny bopper Strokes-obsessed phase, the band produced two more albums, before pretty much disappearing over the last 5 years.

They never officially split up, but most of the band members were busy with side projects, and it seemed like The Strokes might not ever produce music together again.

Undercover Of Darkness

That is, until today. For the first time in 5 years, The Strokes have released a new song: “Undercover Of Darkness.”

This is the first single off of their forthcoming album, Angles, which will be released on March 22nd.

While I was waiting for the song to download (it’s available for free for the next 48 hours on their official website), all of those giddy, 16 year-old teeny bopper feelings came bubbling to the surface again.

Even upon listening to the first few notes of the song, and to Julian’s distinct, yearning-yet-gritty voice, crooning away ambiguous lyrics, little goosebumps actually formed on my arms.

“Undercover Of Darkness” has the classic, Is This It?-era Strokes sound: upbeat, jangly guitars and a feeling that is simultaneously nostalgic and melancholic.

You know that feeling that you get when you meet someone new, but you feel like you’ve known them forever? Yet, you’re still excited about what they’re going to bring to your life, so you want to hang out with them as much as possible to soak up their awesomeness.

“Undercover Of Darkness” is like that new person, and my iTunes is getting a very hefty dose of it–repeatedly!

Hopefully the rest of Angles will live up to the expectations set by “Undercover Of Darkness.” In the meantime, “I’ll wait for you!”

RIP The White Stripes

I distinctly remember the first time I had ever heard The White Stripes. It was over 7 years ago, when I was 17 years old, and it was the summer before starting my senior year of high school.

At this point in my life, I wasn’t the music geek that I am today. I listened to whatever was on the radio, or whatever my friends listened to.

It was one of those hot and sticky summer days in Santa Clara, the kind that makes you feel like a Kirkland Signature ham, glistening with sweat instead of a sweet honey glaze. The kind where your ghetto air conditioning (aka spraying a cold water bottle into a fan) just doesn’t cut it. On those types of days, my mom and I would escape to the air conditioned confines of Valley Fair Mall.

I remember walking into Macy’s Men & Home, looking up at the television screen, and seeing this music video:

At the time, I had no idea who the band or what the song was. But I had to find out. It was so different from everything else that I listened to, but something about it resonated with me.

Later that evening, after probably Googling something like “what’s that lego video?”, I discovered that the band was called The White Stripes, and that the song was “Fell In Love With A Girl.”

A subsequent trip to Rasputin Records, and I was officially the proud owner of “White Blood Cells.” I don’t know how many times I listened to that album that summer, or since then, but it remains one of my all-time favorite albums.

Candy Cane Children

Come September, I had the chance to see The White Stripes at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. And it was only my second concert ever.

To this day, after going to hundreds of concerts, this is still one of the all-time best live performances that I have ever seen. The chemistry between Jack and Meg was electric, the songs sounded so raw and explosive, and the audience–a sea of red and white-clad people–was hanging onto every note.

I’ll never forget how The White Stripes helped set me on the path to a fantastic music scene, or how their music makes me feel.

Like many other ‘Candy Cane Children’ out there, I’m devastated to hear that they’ve split up.

But, as they say, the music lives on. Even though I’ll never see them live again, I know that I can pop in “De Stijl” or “Get Behind Me Satan” and relive those memories.

RIP, The White Stripes!