The Vines Blown Apart by The Bandits and Nada Surf

The Bandits commit grand-theft-audio on a scale akin to their weed habit, whilst Nada Surf upstage The Vines with songs from the stunning LP 'Let Go'. Beware: The first honest review of The Vines.

[l-zone1]There’s a magical place, we’re on our way there, bands in their millions all under one roof. It’s called: The Bandwagon. Liverpool’s new band factory; a monthly club night hosted by tonight’s openers, The Bandits, has played host to everyone from The Zutons, The Music and The Crescent to the band’s much aligned Scouse compadres, The Coral. Like Skelly and co, The Bandits come from a deeply eclectic grounding in everything from Captain Beefheart to Led Zep to Marley. Where the sea-shanty rhythm and blues pummel of The Coral is sometimes a bit too slanted to swallow straight away, The Bandits sound is more direct, more chilling and ultimately more poppy; though equally hard to pin down. There’s a bit of a weed shortage in Liverpool since they got signed, but it’s not hard to see why The Bandits‘ signature has been one of the most sort after of the year.

[r-zone2]Penultimate song, (their glorious debut), ‘The Warning’ has one of the best fuck-off amazing guitar solos of the year. It’s the rockiest song here in a set which included the warm and blissfully twisted folk-fare of ‘Sea Song’ and a strangely infectious cover of The Clash‘s ‘Guns Of Brixton’. Where bands like The Crescent get away with being worryingly average, and sounding distinctly like The Who, The Bandits‘ storming juxtaposition of styles – (all kinds of jazzy blues nuances, funked up time changing bass lines and more straight forward northern soul) – just sounds astoundingly good.

[l-zone3]Like their music, The Bandits‘ dress sense seems a bit of a fiery mix between Woodstock and Fraggle Rock. Frontman John Robinson has the tall, handsome demeanour of a catalogue model wearing a football shirt, whereas the rest of his crew reflect different phases of hippy time bandit and happy hour pothead. This kind of sincerity is what will save British music from the reaches of foreign trash, so all credit to ’em. Click here to read our exclusive interview.

[r-zone4]That’s not to say that all trashy foreign music is bad. Nada Surf‘s fixation with harmonic beach strolling melodies is one of the revelations of the year. Singer, Matthew Caws may look frighteningly similar to The Vines‘ singer, Craig Nicholls, but luckily they have some truly remarkable songs and no hype to back up. Starting with the lonely ‘Blizzard Of ’77’ the follow through with much of their stunning new LP ‘Let Go’. Their set is nothing less than a collection of wide smiles, taking in The Beach Boys, Pavement, and a fair amount of the NYC garage-rock scene where they served their apprenticeship, mellowed down however, with a very Weezer-like sensibility. Unlike the throwaway pap much of their fine city sends us, Nada Surf adopt the kind of intensely soaring singalongs that have seen Heavenly label mates Doves penetrate [l-zone5]the populous. ‘Inside Of Love’ is blessed with the same romantic perfection as our single of the year ‘In My Place’ whilst ‘Blonde On Blonde’ drifts with the kind of tragic brittleness you’d expect from Teenage Fanclub. Touring with The Vines has obvious topped up their confidence a bit, they look at their most comfortable rocking out to more upbeat tracks like ‘The Way You Wear Your Head’. As bassist Daniel Lorca swings his golden locks round and round and drummer Ira Elliot maintains a classy cool dressed like Buddy Holly, Nada Surf‘s trump card is the variety of their material, and the consistency of their songs. They could be the unwitting superstars of 2003.


[l-zone1]The Vines are apparently one of the superstar acts of this year, but it’s an extremely unsatisfying place to be where a group can suddenly be declared ‘the best band since Nirvana‘ without having released one album, let alone worked tirelessly on record after record, reaching all corners of the earth. How many people in the US or back home in Oz give a flying fuck about The Vines? They have some decent songs, sure, but they’re hardly speaking for a generation in the same way Kurt did! [r-zone2]Fair enough, Nirvana stole from their musical inspirations like the best of them, but their style and image was their own. The Vines are nothing more than fifth rate wannabes, and they prove this fully tonight.

[l-zone3]Over-hyped or not, they’re just an average rock band. Playing through their ‘hits‘: ‘Outtathaway’, and ‘Highly Evolved’ it all looks good fun, but nothing more than that [Do follow the link though – especially if you’ve always known this bunch were a load of kittens]. They have none of the presence or personality of THAT other band of the moment, The Datsuns, and the day they write a tune that comes close to ‘Pennyroyal Tea‘ or ‘Heart Shaped Box‘ is the day we stop going to Glastonbury. Once ‘Get Free’ and their remotely amusing cover of ‘Ms Jackson’ pass, the rest of the set is dull-arsed, long winded and overly drawn out meandering dirge. They should stick to fucking off after twenty minutes.

[r-zone4]It’s a dismal shame that the British music industry continues to bandwagon jump on to vapid fads that blatantly have so little long-term value. They’re not as shit tonight as they were at this year’s Glastonbury, but let that not detract from the fact that The Vines do not offer anything original or vitally new, and certainly don’t bring to the table anything that any one of many top new British acts do. A totally thrill-less and unmemorable experience, Kurt would be turning in his grave if this is the sole extent of his legacy.