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CD Review: The Vines – Highly Evoked – Capital

Australian musical imports can be awfully suspect. The micro continent has inexplicably given us Natalie Imbruglia, AC/DC and, the ultimate burden, Silverchair.

So, the fact that The Vines, the newest contestant in the ìwho can save rock íní rollî sweepstakes, hail from Down Under isnít the strong point on their musical resume. The Vines are the next ìbest new bandî that a mainstream record company has to offer the disillusioned music fans that yearn for the days of credibility and musical substance in their rock bands.

The Vines have followed suit in the one-syllable name fad (The Strokes, The Hives, etc.) and have been equally touted as the next saviors of rock music. The Aussie quartetís debut offering from Capitol Records, Highly Evolved, is a mixture of music to just slightly please everyoneís taste.

Craig Nicholls, the bandís lead singer and Kurt Cobain sound-alike, fully showcases his voiceís ambiguity on the album. His voice wavers between gut-wrenching screams and swaying falsettos amongst a balanced mixture of candy-coated punk tunes and catchy ballads.

The title track opens the album, a straightforward attempt at drone-rock equipped with a heavily distorted guitar riff that gives way to Nichollsí guttural scream at the chorus break. The following number, ìAutumn Shade,î is an acoustic-driven, vocal-laden ditty outfitted with a ìput your lighters in the airî guitar solo. Monster ballads, eat your heart out, from your friends in Australia.

These two songs present us with a synecdoche for the entire album ñ one or two heavy, punk-tinged songs followed by an attractive acoustic sing-along number to break up the monotony. Suprisingly, it does work rather well, for The Vines, who are attempting to cater to not only a variety of audiences, but also their own musical meanderings.

The next two tracks, ìOuttatheway!î and ìSunshininí,î display more of the Vinesí trademark combination of Nichollsí gouging vocal shouts supported by torrential two-chord, carved out guitar licks. The first single off the album, ìGet Free,î is more of the same severe guitar rock that ornaments this album. Unfortunately, the latter half of the album dwindles into a gaggle of indistinguishable hard rock and acoustic tunes, save the retro stylings of the closing tune, ì1969.î

The gem of the album, though, is ìHomesick.î The beautiful blending of the multi-tracked vocal adorned with a simple piano accompaniment is the epitome of stellar production and a wonderful example of pure balladry. The guitar solo even leads into an indie-rock style jam that makes for an excellent outro.

The Vinesí debut album is not as highly evolved as advertised. The band impressively achieves a good musical basis, which results in a few good tunes. They arenít The Strokes, but hey, they arenít Silverchair either.

Contact Nick Margiasso at