Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: VHS or Beta, Bring on the Comets

VHS or Beta are a trio out of Louisville, Kentucky featuring Craig Pfunder on guitar, piano and vocals, Mark Palgy on bass, and Mark Guidry on drums.  They began playing dance punk with vhsorbetaan emphasis on the dance.  “Bring on the Comets” is their third full length and marks a move toward more song-oriented music.

The band’s shift toward a different style of music is nicely captured by the first two tracks on the album.  CD opener “Euglama” is a brief intro that begins with a bass heavy dance groove that sounds like it was recorded underwater.  The riff grows into clarity with the addition of guitars while still keeping the basic dance beat and then sinks back to the underwated bass on the fade.  This takes a bit more than one minute.  Pause between tracks and along comes “Love in My Pocket” which opens with a minor variation on the “Euglama” riff played in the same rhymic pattern with crashing guitar chords.  It takes the riff in a completely different direction and is as fine an indication that a band is going to try to build new structures from their old base as I’ve heard in quite some time. 

On “Bring on the Comets” VHS or Beta are exploring guitar-based alt rock with big vocal choruses and something of a 1980’s influence.  The dance aspect is fairly subdued and on some tracks is only noticeable as a more flowing groove in the drums than you would typically find in an alt-rock band.  Many of the songs on “Bring on the Comets” have bits and pieces that sound somewhat familiar like you’ve heard something almost like that somewhere else.  This isn’t too surprising for a band that’s trying to break out of an old groove into something new and hasn’t yet quite found their way.  It’s also not a bad thing as VHS or Beta have a talent for vocal and musical hooks that is worth cultivating as they work to find their own voice.  Pretty much everything on the album is enjoyable.

With “Bring on the Comets” VHS or Beta sounds like a band on the brink with no clear indication of which way they’ll go.  They could go back to the dance punk they started with, they could turn into the sap band of the month that lives to have its tunes played during emotional moments on TV shows that have an audience that buys ringtones, or they could take the path suggested on “Bring on the Comets” of melding riffalicious dance and hook-laden rock into a mix that is uniquely their own.  If they choose the latter, people will look back at “Bring on the Comets” and say “Listen, it started there.”

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03/21/2008 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

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