Oh Shit, We F@#$ing LOVE The Vaccines!!

Once you hit a certain age, unless you've managed to walk around for decades with your thumbs in your ears yelling "LA LA LA LA I AM NOT LISTENING LA LA LA LA!!", the average music-loving person (of which we presume you are one) has amassed such a collection of beloved songs and bands that there just isn't enough room on the ol' mental hard drive to keep adding new shit to the list.

Sure, every young person thinks, "Oh it will never happen to me, I will always keep an eye and ear out for all the latest cool bands", but, at some point, we all get to that stage of the game where our head says "enough already". It's unavoidable. Deal with it, already.

I am 100% guilty of this. I was constantly adding new bands and songs to my list right up until about 1992 and then BAM, I hit the wall. I didn't realize it right away, though. At first, I just thought music started sucking a little more than it had in the past - which may, in fact, be more than just my imagination - but then a friend of mine took a look at my music collection a few days ago and remarked, "You don't have anything on your iPod newer than 1993!"

He was totally wrong, of course. It was actually 1998. I kid, I kid. Actually, I had a ton of current stuff on there: Death Cab, M83, Fever Ray, Amusment Parks On Fire, that last Cake record, etc., but the rest of it was, indeed, largely pre-1993. While my friend continued to diss my music collection ("How can you have Queen 'Hot Space' on here, but no fucking 'A Night At The Opera', dude?"), I began wondering if 1993 hadn't just been the year that my mental hard drive just got too full and, like the proverbial shitty PC you've had since Bill Gates was in college, started getting reeeeally sluggish.

But, just as I had come to terms with the idea that I might never be wowed by a new band ever again, I had the good fortune of having another friend play the new album by The Vaccines. Of course, he prefaced the first song by saying, "These guys have only been together a year or so and are already the hottest thing in the UK." Based on such a description, I was prepared to hate with a red=hot passion whatever I was about to hear. After all, isn't the UK that country that considers Robbie Williams edgy, worships boy bands beyond all reason, and sends every fookin' Atomic Kittens single straight to the top of the charts?

The name "The Vaccines" does nothing for me, though. It's obvious that every last cool band name has been taken if "The Vaccines" is the best a band can do. Having said that, as the first song on their new album, "What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?", blasted out of the car's speakers, I couldn't help think that there was a certain "it" factor to what I was hearing. I didn't like the track - still don't, really - but my interest was at least piqued.

The next cut, "If You Wanna", sounded like a completely different band. In fact, if I closed my eyes (which I could do as my friend was driving), I felt myself drift back to the late 80's, when that last wave of truly magnificent UK bands - Oasis, The La's, Stone Roses, My Bloody Valentine, Manic Street Preachers, etc. - were spray-painting the musical landscape with their jagged riffs and effortless melodies.

It wasn't until track 3, "A Lack Of Understanding", that I was sold. This was a motherfucker of a band and I was no longer afraid to admit it. This song, which was even more of a throwback than the previous cut had been, is without question one of the greatest songs to be written in the last 20 years. How could such a song of substance come from a band that is the current flavor of the week in England? It's not fluff. It's actually saying something, and not just existing for the purpose of blowing up the charts before eventually dissipating like a burrito fart. Additionally, how is a song this good - in all of its Joy Division-y grandeur - able to come from a band this young?

Bands exist for ages, working their way through album and album of also-ran's in order to stumble on that one hard-earned gem of a song to forever hang their hats upon
and here come The Vaccines tossing off the first of what would become an entire album of stone-cold monolithic jams.

"Blow It Up" - a total throwaway of a tune to this band (it was the B-side of their first single, "Wrecking Bar"), but a damn fine one at that. Most bands would consider this an A-side and they'd be fookin' right to do so.

"Wetsuit" - If you haven't already said to yourself "This guy sure sounds a lot like that guy from Coldplay", you will by the time this song ends. Thing is, if Chris Martin was writing stuff like this these days, I wouldn't consider Coldplay to be Britain's Maroon 5 even though they came first.

"Norgaard" - Sounds exactly like a dozen different songs I used to hear on "120 Minutes", with videos that used a lot of hand-held, fast-motion montages, hip kid giving his girlfriend a ride home from working her shift at the retro thrift store on his vintage motorcycle, etc.

"Post Break-Up Sex" - Seriously, the chorus melody to this song is lifted directly from Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know". Not that I'm complaining, really.

"Under Your Thumb" - Again, some really sweet late 80's UK indie rock influences coming from the band on this one - Housemartins, Echo & The Bunnymen, et al. Love this one!

"All In White" - An atmospheric, majestic rocker that Muse wishes they could write, as it soars without the need to sing it at the top of your range and ping all the studio meters with the EQ. Bombastic, yes, but this band does so with restraint and hits a home run.

"Wolf Pack" - If The Primitives had had a dude singing for them, they'd probably still be around (OK, my producer tells me the just recently reunited, whatever), and rocking tunes like this rightful jam. It's impossible to not smile while riding a Jet Ski...or listening to this song!

"Family Friend" - Another really familiar melody, what the heck song are they ripping off? I mean, it's a cool tune, but, wow, my head hurts from trying to figure this one out. It's like the verse is swiping from one song and the chorus is doing it from another. Argh! Nice enough song, but doesn't really add anything to the mix.

"Somebody Else's Child - Very few bands dare attempt, much less pull off a stunner of a piano-and-vocal ballad to end their album. Remind me again, why are the Brits so fucking ga-ga for a band with substance oozing from their every pore? Has the whole world lost its head?

I will keep my fingers crossed that this isn't just some cruel joke a very large group of people I don't even know are playing on me to make me think that there is still some hope for humanity and that we as a species haven't gone over the cliff do-do style!

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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