THE VACANT LOTS: Fracture

23 05 2020


With every passing day, we get closer to the new record by The Vacant Lots. I’ve already heard it, and I can promise you that it is a perfect record from start to finish. The record is out 26th June, so I’ll write about it closer to the time.

Jared and Brian released the next single from Interzone yesterday. Fracture is a really calming number and it is one of those songs that leaves you in a solid state of bliss with every single listen. What I absolutely adore about TVL is that they have this strong ability to crush your brain with their louder songs, but when they take a more gentle approach like this, they just soothe your soul. That’s what makes them one of my favourite bands, and I’ve noticed that this is something I gravitate to in the music I love from bands I hold very dear to me.

Oh, and one super cool fact for you- the Arp synth used on the song once belonged to one half of the best band ever- Alan Vega from Suicide, and there are moments on the song where you can hear their influence on Jared and Brian. It’s such a beautiful thing.

Who knows what state the world will be in when Interzone is released; all I know is that whatever the situation the record will make it easier. For now, let’s enjoy the glorious sounds of Fracture and let our minds drift off for a while.





THE VACANT LOTS: Rescue

24 04 2020

 

American death. Nothing matters anymore. Closed casket wedding”

 

Nothing makes me happier than I band I LOVE release new music. I’ve been super vocal about my love for The Vacant Lots for a number of years now, and I still regard their live show in Hoxton as being one of the best shows I have ever seen; then I saw them play the Moth Club and my mind was just blown. My heart was healed, my soul soothed and all was okay. Basically, I love TVL a hell of a lot and they are a band that I’ll never ever be able to get enough of.

I’ve already heard the new record, but that review will be coming in June shortly before the record comes out. However, they have JUST released a brand new song from the record. I can also announce that TVL have signed with Fuzz Club- which is a huge deal. I’m super proud of Jared and Brian, and having a label like Fuzz Club sign them is proof of their hardwork and passion. Now let’s get into the single!

Rescue is everything you could want from TVL. It’s got the Suicide meets Lou Reed sound with parts from another world thrown in. We all need a rescue right now, and this song just pours out the frustrations of isolation and uncertainty. What I’ve always loved about TVL is that their influences aren’t always from music- the way you can pick up on writers such as Burroughs, Baudelaire etc shines through, and Rescue feels like it could have been placed in one of Jared’s poetry books (if you don’t have a copy, get one! I picked one up from a tour and it’s still something I go back to.)

We all have this feeling inside of us to want to escape, and sometimes we push it down because the fire to do so isn’t quite in us. I feel this quote about the song from the band really does sum up the song beautifully, and perfectly: “The need to escape & the need to fight despite things being fucked up in the world or in your life. The song deals with the conflict of wanting to escape but also feeling the contradictory feeling of wanting to fight (before it’s too late).”

 

 

Sometimes you can’t quite bring yourself to escape, but sometimes something else takes over, and I just love this quote also: “Overall in order to tackle themes like problems in society (macro) we have to overcome a lot of our own internal issues (micro).” TVL have this beautiful way of just giving you comfort when you need it, and they’re releasing this single (and the new record) during a time where everyone is unsure of what’s going. We want out, but we also want it to get better. We want something or someone to rescue us, but I guess the key thing here is to have patience and carry on as best as you can.

TVL aren’t a band that fall into one genre, far from it. Rescue is the kind of song you can play at home as loud as you want, but it’d also sound pretty remarkable in a bar/club. There’s an 80s synth feel to the song, and that’s something you’ll be treated to on the new record.

Their new record, Interzone will be out on 26th June via Fuzz Club. Rescue is the perfect introduction to the new record, and honestly, Jared sums it up perfectly:  “We don’t want to waste people’s time and we want people to play it over and over. Our mantra is ‘is it bulletproof? 8 songs. 30 minutes. It’s about intention and vision.” TVL always give us music that you can become obsessed with and keep on playing and trust me, Interzone is nothing short of exceptional.





THE VACANT LOTS: Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen. 13th June 2017.

14 06 2017

TVL

Photo credit: Olivia Cellamare

 

Last night I saw The Vacant Lots for the second time. I wondered if they could top the first time I saw them. If I could relive that feeling again. And again. There was clearly no need for me to even question this. The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands I have ever seen live, and I honestly wish I could be in that moment of watching them every single day.

Their set opens with Departure. This is the perfect song to open with, it makes you feel like Brian and Jared are welcoming you into this world of theirs. It’s a noisy world but still the most peaceful place to go. Every song they play just makes me wish I had some musical talent. Instead I just write about it, sorry!

It’s hard to work out who to watch when you go to a show by The Vacant Lots. Brian lurks over his side of the stage, hiding sweetly behind a case with TVL written on it. He crashes the cymbal next to him as if something has come over him. Every word he sings is projected with this feeling that gets you right in the gut. For me, the way he sings Paint This City is one if the greatest moments. It’s my favourite song by them and to see it performed with this beautiful emotion is an honour to see. It’s his workstation and the noises that come from there are like a scientist at work. It’s just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

Jared performs Funeral Rites in a way that makes you want to get on the stage and sing it with him. Taken from the Berlin EP, which came out last year, this song is on the same level as what Brian does with Paint This City. These moments in the set really show just how amazing they are. It’s the only song in the set where Jared doesn’t play guitar. I need to talk about Jared and his guitar. If you’ve ever seen, or just listened to The Vacant Lots you’ll know just how great a guitarist Jared is. He’s got this effortless way of making you wish you could do what he does. But what he does is so rare. The noise that comes out of his guitar is like nothing I’ve heard before. It truly whirls its way around you then slowly finds its way into your soul. The band really come alive when you see their show. The songs take on a different meaning. Of course Mad Mary Jones is another stand out part of the show. Jared holds his guitar close and you cannot take your eyes off the stage.

The Vacant Lots are that band you discover on your own and you realise quickly what an impact they have on you. They’ll make you want to make your own noise, write your own words down in a scuffed notebook- sacred thoughts that no one rarely sees. They make you want to step into this world they create with their sound and to never leave. It’s home. It feels how home should feel. When you go to one of their shows, your surroundings don’t matter. You could be with a group of friends or you can be on your own- but you zone out and feel like you are the only one there. They are such a powerful band and criminally underrated.

Bands like this are rare. Bands that can evoke this kind of feeling and drive within you are so rare. We simply must treasure them. What I love about Jared and Brian is that they sound like they are from far, far away. The sound they have created changes with each record and EP they release, and for me that’s what keeps their live shows so influential and exciting. I can only hope the younger generation go to one of their shows and think, “One day, I’ll do that.”

I’ve got a few bands I always say that I could happily go to their show every night and not get bored with it- The Vacant Lots are no doubt in that list. Last night was a truly brilliant show. They don’t need to engage in pointless small talk- the music says it all. Also, I finally bought a TVL shirt so I’ll probably be living in that from now on.

Go see them. Stand at the front. Get your eardrums and mind blown.

 





…vs My Brain

9 05 2017

da8c764f05d75cdd6b8c64d3bab1954d

 

 

With it being Mental Health Awareness Week, I guess now is a good a time as any to ramble on about my past year. In fact, it was probably longer than a year- I just put off dealing with whatever my brain was telling me, and not telling me.

Last October I think I pretty much had my very own breakdown. It was at 2/3am. I remember sitting on my bed in some weird position crying, having a panic attack after panic attack. I was at war with my head. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t switch off. Nothing maintained my attention. I was starting to worry about myself. Prior, I just didn’t care. I went to the doctor and after a few minutes I was told to do a self-referral for treatment. I put this off for a few weeks, then stopped being a stubborn dick and did it.

Now I care more than I did. I went to the doctor a second time earlier this year, as my referral for CBT was going to be some time- the second stage of it. I made no improvements with the first lot. Labelled as having severe anxiety and mild depression. Labels are for foodstuffs- I’m not for consumption. Things shouldn’t define a person, just like their actions always shouldn’t. In this case, I wasn’t going to let this be something that ruled who I was and my life- enough was enough. I went to my doctor. She looked at me and asked how she could help. I cried. I broke down like a child and cried. I said “I can’t cope.” Finally admitting to myself that I couldn’t hack whatever was going on in my head.

As someone who can’t take paracetamol without assuming the worse, I had to resign myself to the fact that at this stage- I probably needed something other than talking. I agreed to take medication. Since starting the medication in late February, I am pretty sure that every side effect I had (I had them all) has been worth it. I’d rather have continuous dry mouth than have another fucking panic attack. The side effects have virtually gone. I do have days where I get this really bad pain in my stomach or the occasional headache, but I’d take that over how I was and what I was putting myself through. Or rather, what my brain was putting me through. I had my assessment for my second stage of CBT. I was being asked questions that weren’t relevant and being asked to focus on things that I really don’t need to. I felt as if I had to say what they wanted, and I didn’t want to be made to bring things up that don’t need to be. So I discharged myself. I decided rather than waste their time (and mine) I would give up my place for someone else who needs it more than me. I tried, and for me, that’s the main thing. But it just wasn’t for me.

Everyone bangs on about it, but support is key. I’ve got a handful of people that I know have my back and are there for me. Just like I am there for them. It also helps having a girlfriend who has a similar shit sleeping pattern so I have someone at 1am when I can’t sleep and everything seems too much. She’s my rock, and I try my hardest to be hers.

Music has been a massive help for me. We went to see Banks in March, and for me I think that was the point where I solidly felt okay. At one point going to gigs was just overwhelming. Going to work was overwhelming. Not because I hate my job or anything like that- far from it. But the effort of having to get out of bed and the overwhelming feeling of being on a packed train. My brain was slowly failing me. Or maybe I was failing myself for not taking better care. Music has been my other rock. Certain songs (which I’ll link below) have played a massive part in my brain healing and keeping me calm. I go the gym during the week after work to allow myself to take care of my body as well as my mind.

My bad days now don’t feel near as half as bad as they once were. I don’t have to fake being alright because I genuinely feel just fine at the moment. I’m not thinking long-term because that shit is scary. If I can get through one day without feeling terrible, I’m fine. My last panic attack was on the 2nd March. It’s been two months. I still feel a little shitty at times and certain things at the moment are fucking tough but, you can’t control everything.

I am not brave, I am not tough. All I did was reach breaking point. All I did was let myself get worse before I realised something needed to be done.

I’m alright. I’m happy with that. I’m alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





THE VACANT LOTS: Endless Nights.

20 04 2017

7569147

 

Stating what makes a band great is all down to personal taste. What I love, another person will dislike. And vice versa. What someone may call the Record of the Year, another may rip it to shreds. With this in mind, I can happily say (with a wealth of bias behind it) that The Vacant Lots are easily one of the best bands around and their new record, Endless Nights is probably the best record of the year. It’s 8 perfect songs and it fully justifies why I love them so much.

I’ve been a fan of The Vacant Lots for some time, and what immediately drew me in was the way they push past holding a “typical” sound. Nothing about their sound is remotely bland. Their sound reminds me of Suicide with a hint of The Velvet Underground. They’re a band that are perfect to listen to in the depths of the night when you’re utterly alone. They provide comfort and a brilliant noise in your head.

Endless Nights is something else. Departure was undoubtedly a bold masterpiece and with Endless Nights they have done something else. You can truly hear how they have pushed themselves in order to make something this outstanding. Elevation is one of my highlights of the record, it sounds like Suicide clashing with very early Depeche Mode with a hint of NEU! Everything about The Vacant Lots is effortlessly stunning and just so bloody cool. Empty Space is another strong point. The seductive grooves of this track show a more mellow side to their sound. Previous releases of theirs have had this gorgeous dark and intense sound, but with Endless Nights the sound is a little more relaxed but you can really hear how they have challenged themselves to make such an incredible record.

I finally saw them live last year when they played the Moth Club. Jared holding his guitar up to the ceiling and playing until there was blood on his fingers and guitar is something that will always stick with me. They play with this passion that just makes you want to make your own noise. After seeing them live last year, I understood more about their music and just how important they are. They have this cult-like following (a bit like Cold Cave) and those that love them, truly and unconditionally love them. It’s those who really really love and adore music that find themselves in love with The Vacant Lots, and if you’ve never heard of them before- Endless Nights is going to steal your heart away.

Dividing Light is a relaxed version of the rowdy 6AM from their Departure record. Both takes on the song are just brilliant. I love how they have taken such a loud song and stripped it back to this. Both versions are remarkable, and they’ll fit any mood you’re in.

If you’re a fan of The Vacant Lots, you’ll know of their beautiful and close relationship with Suicide. I remember when Alan Vega passed away last year. I was more cut up about it than any other musician we lost last year. For me, Suicide have always been that band that have been prominent in influencing bands I love. They’re criminally underrated and the influence they’ve had on so many bands is just priceless. Sadly, Alan died before he could record his vocals on the last track of the record, Suicide Note. The Vacant Lots were granted permission to use clips of an unreleased track by Alan, and it just feels like a fitting tribute. It just reminds you of the genius that is Alan Vega, and how he and Martin Rev were part of one of the most vital bands of all time.

Endless Nights is another masterpiece by Jared and Brian. 8 tracks of mind-blowing and mind-altering sounds that will be your crutch, comfort and friend. I can’t wait to see them in London and Manchester this year. Their Europe/UK June dates are as follows:

3rd Mannheim, Blau Bar
5th Wiesbaden, Schlachtof
6th Hamburg, Hakken
7th Berlin, Monarch
10th Bern, Pinto
13th London, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
14th Brighton, Hope & Ruin
15th Glasgow, O2 ABC
16th Leeds, Temple Of Boom
17th Manchester, Aatma

Endless Nights is out tomorrow (21st April) via Metropolis Records. Sack off Record Store Day on Saturday and just buy this instead! Besides, every day is Record Store Day.





“Between the cities, between the thrills. There’s something inside you, it doesn’t sleep well.”

22 12 2016

serenity-now_3_approved

“It won’t last forever
Or maybe it will.”

 

A few months ago I went to the doctor because I felt like shit. Shit is the only word I can use, I guess. Although I don’t think it covers it. I told him everything I felt and he said “depression and anxiety.” You can’t even make it sound good. You know, at least if you have a cold your voice gets a bit husky and suddenly people want you to talk more. But anxiety and depression? You might as well say you’ve got something not mentioning. For me, I’m conflicted. Part of me is sort of glad I know what’s wrong with me but the other part wants it gone. I’ve been told it gets better but right now, no part of me sees that. I have more bad days than good.

Last Friday I had 5 panic attacks in under 2 and a bit hours. I’d have much preferred someone to have punched me in the face for 2 hours. It would have hurt less. The aftermath of a panic attack for me is equally as bad as having one. I get a migraine straight away but with a normal migraine, the  pain is less tense and the nausea that comes with it I can sort of tame. After a panic attack, the migraine just doesn’t go. It’s a constant stabbing sensation in my head and the feeling of being sick stays. It’s debilitating and exhausting.
The thing with depression and anxiety is that no one sees it. No one can see someone is mentally unwell. They don’t see someone who has to set an alarm half an hour before they need to be up so they actually get up and go to work. They don’t see how everyday small things can set a person off. And that’s okay. Imagine if we could see it. It would be useful but as someone who hates any form of attention, I’d probably be worse. Most days I just want to stay in bed. I don’t want to see or speak to anyone. It used to be passed off by others as me being “difficult” or “unsociable.” I’m neither of these things. Although sometimes you do just want to tell people to piss off don’t you. But I think that’s just human nature.
There are parts of you that feel, “what if no one believes me?” I’m stuck with that constantly. I feel because I can force a smile at times and laugh- maybe I don’t have these things. Maybe it’s not real. It comes and goes. I don’t always feel shit, but I do and I think that’s okay. I’ve learnt to try find a safe space wherever I am. As I live in a stupidly big city, it’s hard to find any form of peace. For me, the gym is my safe space. I used to go because I hated being fat and hated my body. I still do, but now it’s to keep my mind clear as best as I can. Going to gigs used to be my safety net but the last gig I went to, I had a panic attack and had to leave. This was a month ago and since, I’ve missed a handful of gigs because I can’t set my mind free.
Like some, music is my safety net. Certain bands/singers voices and music take away how overbearing and how overwhelming this feeling is. Certain bands have become my safety net, my safe space for when I can’t physically get somewhere.
From the rowdiness of Melvins to the calming sounds of Beach House, certain songs take whatever is happening away. But not all the time. Sometimes it’s just no use- and that’s okay.
I’ve chosen a couple of songs that have been vital in calming me down and being my crutch whenever I’ve needed. The songs that store my sanity but as yet, don’t have the power to keep everything at bay. But that’s fine. I’ve experienced understanding and a lack of understanding through all this. I’ve started CBT and apparently that will work. As someone who has a dislike for things like that, it’s tough. My mind is open. Ironically, I had 2 panic attacks whilst on my way to my first session so that was a great experience. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t. I don’t know- nobody does. And that’s okay.
Anyway, enough of the self-indulgent bullshit. Have some songs:

 

 





THE VACANT LOTS: Berlin EP.

23 11 2016

tvl-berlin-ep

 

On Sunday I finally saw The Vacant Lots live and I’m still in some sort of daze from amazing it was. I reckon anyone who has seen them live or just loves their music will know exactly what I mean. I sometimes find after going to a show, listening to the band afterwards doesn’t always feel right, as if something was missing. Fortunately this did not happen on Sunday and I’ve been constantly listening to The Vacant Lots.

This  Friday their Berlin EP will be released. The record is produced (and mixed) by Anton Newcombe. To have a band I love work with someone I hugely admire is, as a fan, a bloody brilliant thing. It’s perfect, just utterly perfect. Many years ago when I was doing a work placement at a music magazine, I was in the same room as the editor as he interviewed Anton on the phone. We both bonded over our love for him and afterwards were both just in awe of what happened. Fortunately I am shy enough to keep my gob shut and didn’t not chime in with some questions of my own.

The Berlin EP perfectly picks up from where Departure left us. They remain loyal to the sound that I fell in love with a few years ago. The EP is made up of 4 songs that send the listener (regardless of how big a fan they are) into a daze, into a trance. You can shut the world off when you play this record. It takes you to the belly of an underworld that is yet to be found by others. Maybe it truly sums up the sound of Berlin, maybe it sums up the sound and images in your mind. Whatever it sums up, just let it take you there.

The psychedelic artwork is ideal to gaze at as you listen to the songs, especially on Promise Me. The sound that they have created is projected beautifully from Anton’s production. As I listen back to the songs, I can’t help but feel that nobody else but Anton could get this sound. I know people say that perfection doesn’t exist, but they’ve clearly never listened to The Vacant Lots.

The Vacant Lots have a few more shows left in Europe but unfortunately copies of the Berlin EP have sold out. I say unfortunately but I’m proud of them and really happy for them. The Berlin EP is a body of work that oozes dedication, blood, sweat, hours, fears and tears. The songs may torment you but they may also soothe you- just like Departure did. I’ve never been to Berlin, I sometimes feel like the only person in the world who hasn’t, but this record makes me feel like I have and that it is home. Home can be whatever you create in your mind and heart. It can also be wherever a band or record takes you. It’s a feeling, and you can feel it as many times as you want.

Some bands sound better in certain settings, and I think The Vacant Lots are a band that you can carry with you anywhere you go. They are perfect to listen to at 7:30am on the way to work or at 4am when you cannot sleep. They let you dream in your own way. They thrash the insides of your mind with their hypnotic sound. I’ve said it before, but they are one of those bands that make you wish you were in band. They leave you with this feeling as if you just have to do something. But take your time to figure it out.

As mentioned, the Berlin EP is sold out on tour but you might be able to get some copies from Cargo Records if you live in Europe/UK and Forced Exposure if you’re in the states. In my mind they are one of the greatest bands since Suicide. They tear down walls of what is deemed as “normal” or “typical.” On the Berlin EP, Land is the track that really evokes this and is probably one of my favourite songs I’ve heard this year. Not just lyrically do I adore it but the music is so moving. They have this wonderfully ability to tap into your mind, and they do it so beautifully on Land.

Go see them the next time they play near you and allow every part of you to be moved.