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Vacancy - s/t CD 7/26:13
There is an interesting contradiction between the package art and the music on this disc. The design, the lettering, the scowling photo of the band might lead one to expect fist-pumping street punk. Even the opening riff of the first track seems to suggest this. But then the song kicks in, and it's all about poppy, pretty, cheerful new skool sweetness. Themes of thwarted desire and lost adolescence permeate these tunes. The writing is very poetic and a little precious. Behind all that, though, the musicians occasionally seem ready to break out into something tough. It never happens, but the possibility is promising. Maybe The Vacancy will break out into something kickass on their next release. Mark
@ www.a-frecords.com

Vagiants – “Short and Hard” CD 9/34:28
Not bad post-blues rockish punk with Female vox that seem to take a few cues from Robert Plant (when I first heard the opening tune “Hotbox” I kept expecting her to break into “Been a long time since I rocked and rolled…”). Based on this evidence they have more-than-enough energy to keep them out of the bar-punk rut that too many similar acts fall into. The use of surface noise (runoff groove) as a link to the obligatory Bonus Hidden Track was a nice touch as well. David
@ www.sinklub.com

Vandals - "Internet Dating Super Studs" CD 14/38:21
Yeesh, you'd think a band that has been around as long as the Vandals, with no major personnel changes, would put out something a little better than this. They still go for the funny bone lyrically in songs like "Disproportioned Head" and "Soccer Mom", but the songs fall flat. There is too much goofy plucking going on with the guitars on a couple of tunes and there are others that just lack any real energy, which is just about the worst crime a punk band can commit. As the precursors to bands like NOFX, and having put out records in the past that are just as good as anything NOFX has done, you'd expect more. It has it's moments, but that's about all. Steve
@ www.kungfurecords.com

Varmints – “Assorted Varmints: 1989-1997” CD 13/35:04
The leader of the Varmints is none other than Billy Borgioli, from the Real Kids, out in Boston. It’s nice to know he has a music life outside of RK reunions, and it’s exciting that it’s this much fun. Lots of sharp guitar licks, fun tunes, and decent vocals. While Billy’s voice is narrow in range, he uses it to the best of his advantage, and puts out music that is tight and rocks. The last four cuts are live on the radio, and they are on the same level of the first nine, which shows just how well these guys play. Best cuts include “That’s Out,” “In This Town,” and “Ain’t No Good.” RBF
@ yardleygirl@aol.com

Vee Dee – “Further” CD 12/32:39
More coolness from Chicago in the form of ye olde primal punk, with tunes like “Midnight Sun” bringing back pleasant memories of obscure 80s Aussie garage outfits that the likes of B-Side (Aussie version, not the US rag of the same name) used to cover. Another fine product from Criminal IQ HQ. David
@ www.criminaliq.com

Vells – s/t CD 6/21:17
One of the biggest complaints you could lodge against Vells is that their songs sound relatively the same. But at least it’s a pretty good song. Vells are an indie rock super group from Seattle, featuring current or former members of Modest Mouse, Red Stars Theory, Blessed Light, and Stagger Lee. In addition, the album was produced by Mr. All Star Northwest producer himself, Phil Ek. For me, all of this adds up to a whole lot of hype that could potentially end in disaster. Luckily, this disc turns out to be a decent listen. Not really sounding anything like the groups with which they are affiliated, Vells instead turn their attention towards recreating some sort Kinks-ian pop gems that you could be convinced were from another era if you didn’t know any better. There are times when this looking-backwards-rather-than-forwards type of music can be rather grating, but on this go around it just comes across as folks who really enjoy a good pop tune and want to play you their versions of them. This record marks a decent start for Vells, a start that will hopefully lead into a great full length in the near future. Jakehomas
@ Luckyhorse, PO Box 18127, Seattle WA 98118

Velvet Crush -“Free Expression” 2XCD
Velvet Crush may have formed from the diminutive state of Rhode Island, but their sound is anything but small. Incorporating the jangle of classic power pop with Big Star harmonies the group under the production of pal Matthew Sweet makes a great rock album with Free Expression. With hooks as loose as cream style corn this smart collection moves with effortless fun. Spread the word. Matthew S
@ www.velvetcrushrockgroup.com

Vexers – “Gangland Ballads & the Death Sex Set” CD 6/19:37
Hot on the heels of their debut CD comes this 6-songer, with a bit of a shift in direction, reducing their previous two-guitar attack by one, and darkening their sound even more without drifting into “goth” territory. There is more of a noticeably post-punk influence to the tuneage (especially “T.K.O. Pt. 2”), but overall this is closer to resembling a better variant on the kind of “edgy rock” that all-so-briefly appeared after punk hit the land (not quite fiery enough to be punk, but with more of an edge to it than mere rock, the kind you’d imagine as the soundtrack for leatherboys strutting down a dimly-lit alley somewhere) before being dragged down by Nu Wave. Not quite music to pogo or practice your gang-of-four reference-checking to, but pretty good stuff nevertheless. David
@ www.acefu.com

Vexers – s/t CD 10/24:35
Philly outfit doing what sounds like a modern take on the garagey punk that sprung up in the late 70s, with a female vocalist that took more than a few cues from early San Francisco female-voxed bands; I can easily imagine them doing justice to, say, the VKTMS’ “Boys and Booze”. However they manage to inject enough of their own personality into the proceedings to keep from coming off a retro-oriented throwback. I daresay this is a keeper. David
@ www.acefu.com

Vibrators – “Energize” CD 16/51:26
I can’t believe this new Vibrators record isn’t on Captain Oi! Never being a huge Vibrators fan, I don’t the intensive history with them like with other continuing British members of the classes of 1977 and 1981. This is decent mid-tempo punkish rock, with a lot of nods to The Gun Club (or vice versa) crossed with the Damned’s early records. This is nice in a veteran-punk-band-puts-out-a-solid-unembarassing-record kind of way. Other records that fall into that category for me are The Damned “Grave Disorder” and the major label Social Distortion records (pre-“White Trash White Heat” which is fucking brilliant!). One note: whoever came up with the ultra-computer graphic thing should restrain themselves in the future and add lyrics instead. While it’s not the visual horror show of The Adicts “Rise and Shine,” this record’s layout and design is no “Germ-Free Adolescents.” Jesse
@ Track, PO Box 107, Redhill, Surrey, RH9 8YS, U.K.

Vibrators – “Hunting for You” CD 12/41:09
This is a reissue of one of the later Vibrators albums, which I believe was originally recorded in the first half of the 1990s and featured only Knox and drummer Eddie from the early lineup. Although the recording is more appropriate for a hard rock or metal band than a punk group, it’s still filled with Knox’s characteristically fine songwriting and fab fretwork as well as the band’s always tight, rock steady rhythm section. This is one of those records that soon grows on you as the catchy, rockin’ songs become increasingly familiar. It’s not “Pure Mania” or “V2,” but it definitely sounds like the Vibrators, which can’t be a bad thing. Jeff
@ www.cherryred.co.uk

Vice Dolls – “Die Trying” CD 14/32:05
A new moshcore/posi-band with a female vocalist? Rad, this band should be right up my alley. Unfortunately the music is cookie-cutter fast mosh-core that sounds really thin. The vocals never become distinctive or dynamic, although the inclusion of all the lyrics is cool. Too bad the aural delivery of those lyrics isn’t compelling enough to spend enough time with this record to read them all the way through. I am really disappointed. I hope that a, they’re decent live, and that b, they record an interesting, compelling record next time around. Good luck! Jesse
@ Crosscheck, PO Box 39439, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Victory at Sea – “The Good Night” CD10/33:17
Mona Elliott has a tough, smoky voice that is reminiscent of the newer, more refined stuff from PJ Harvey. She has help from a competent pair of players (Mel Lederman on bass and piano; Carl Eklof on drums), but this is an album heavily dependent on Elliott’s lyrics and guitar. She revels in despondency. “Mary in June” is a downtempo song about a lonely woman sending her sons off to war and “The Liar” is about a woman who has been betrayed and has now betrayed herself. Not much happiness here, but plenty of interesting despair. Kevin
@ www.kimcheerecords.com

Virtues – “Ruminate” CD 11/40:07
Indie pop from Sweden is the sort of phrase that should strike fear in the heart of anyone with a set of ears, but this is actually quite a good record. Jangly and big-hearted guitar-driven tunes. “Matchday” is a particularly good track. Kevin
@ www.thevirtues.net

Visqueen – “King Me” CD 10/27:02
I had a music teacher once who always told us to never exhaust the audience. “You should always leave them wanting more`” he said. With ten tracks in 27 minutes, and most songs coming in around two and a half minutes, you wouldn’t think it would be enough time for Visqueen to exhaust the audience, but they do. It’s sad really because these songs are hooky and great, the guitars are loud, with slightly gravelly vocals and great production. It’s too bad that the lyrics are piteously bad. For instance the lyrics of “Last to know” contain three lines repeated over and over, in strangely moan-y ways that no not match the rest of the song. Then again, maybe I’m just an intellectual snob, because I cringed when I saw the spelling of the opening track, “Vaxxine.” pamelav
@ www.visqueenonline.com

Viva – “Blanksidesongs” CD 10/45:28
Daniel Rickard sings like he’s in the basement of his mom’s house, and it’s two in the morning, and if he wakes the old bag one more time with that rock ‘n roll music of his, well, he’ll be out on his ass. A moody little record of thoughtful, quiet songs with some piano and the occasional horn. Kevin
@ www.pitch-a-tent.com

Viva Voce – “Lovers Lead the Way” CD 15/65:21
This Portland, OR husband and wife duo write delightfully lush transcendental pop songs that occupy space previously held by British bands such as Medicine, Darling Buds, and Faith Healers. In fact, if you heard this on the radio you might have thought that Medicine got back together and was trying to write some songs that had a little more appeal here in the states. Most of this disc is fronted by a massive wall of pop guitar with all sorts of sounds ringing beneath, fashioning superb tunes and occasionally presenting strange little moments that diversify the disc and fit in nicely. Xtian
@ www.amorephonics.com

Viza-Noir – “No Record” CD 10/35:45
Call them a chip of the ol’ Mission of Burma block with a shot of Gang of Four as well. Those stern and demanding vocals obscured by winding, shifting melodies and guitars that some call “math rock”. You can hear the influences loud and clear and rocking, which is their greatest flaw: there is no distinction in Viza-Noir’s sound. No matter how well their homage to these other artists is, it ultimately sounds like something that has already been done before. pamelav
@ www.flameshovel.com

Vocokesh – “The Tenth Corner” CD 7/65:30
Along with the usual Vocokesh fun and game there are two tracks conceived as “alternative soundtrack material” to a couple of Jodorowsky flicks (as a third one conceived for non-J flick “Zabriskie Point”). To be honest, there’s quite a bit on here that sounds either aimless to downright cheesy (like most space rock it’s no surprise that the longer tracks are more susceptible to these traits). Still there are enough good things here (such as the ominous soundscapes of “Desert Song “Zabriskie Point” & “Special Glasses For Remote Viewing” and the parts of “Love Theme From El Topo” that sound like vintage Throbbing Gristle) not to count them out yet. Beginners should check out their previous releases before making their way to this one, though they’ll be relieved that the music here is no where near as crap as the cover art. David
@ www.strange-attractors.com

Volebeats - “Country Favorites” CD 12/41:21
From Detroit, these evident journeymen on the neo-country-rock scene, pals with Ryan Adams and suchlike, come up with a set of perfectly listenable originals mixed in with surprisingly well handled, atypical covers. Aging youth wants to know: why hasn’t anyone ever attempted a decidedly Southwestern take on Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain” before this lot? Ditto for wrapping the Nordic chill of ABBA’s “Knowing Me Knowing You” in a tobasco-breath twang, and then there’s the Slayer song (true!)…good backporch, stump-jumping fun to be had all around. MLH
@ www.turquoisemountain.com

Volta Sound - "This is the Yin and the Yang" CD 10/54:47
If Blur took valium and formed a Velvet Underground cover band they'd sound a bit like The Volta Sound on "Gracious Guru," the beguiling opener to their latest full-length. They switch gears a bit on the second song, channeling a gold-plated, flat-haired 60s garage god with minimal effort on "Henri Chinaski." The Volta Sound aren't doing anything that hasn't been done before. It's just nice to hear their patience and faithfulness in recreating the drone 'n zone of drug-induced hipster meditations from yesteryear. I suppose it could become annoying if you haven't the tolerance for repetitive, apathy-laden pop reflection. This shit is jaded as hell. But it's good too. Worth picking up for those rainy days where you weren't going to get out of bed anyway. Mod shoegazers unite! The Volta Sound are here to give you a signature sound. John
@ www.dionysusrecords.com

Volxsturm – “Bi uns to Hus” CD 14/41:13
Catchy German Oi band which combines a solid punk sensibility with non-generic oi music- some hints of both Motorhead and NOFX creep in, if you can believe it. I’m stoked that they’re singing in their native language, but I just wish there had been an English cheat sheet for us non-German speakers reviewing this record in the US. The last tune is called “Bier ist total mein freund”- which I assume means “Beer is always my friend”- and they dedicate the record “all subculture-kids worldwide!!! Oi is fun!!!”, so they’re probably not secret swastika-lovers. I’d imagine they’re more of a bald Toy Dolls or Busters: music and fun first, politics a far second? I don’t know for sure what they’re saying, but they sure sound like a darn good beer-soaked show! Jesse
@ DSS, PO Box739, 4021 Linz, Austria

Von Bondies – "Pawn Shoppe Heart" CD 12/40:48
I was discussing this album online with an internet friend of mine, lamenting on how boring this album is. And he said “I've heard the record. Agree that most of the album is a snooze. That being said, if they put "C'mon, C'mon" on there seven times in row instead, I'd still listen to it.” That pretty much sums it up: one great single and a lot of pap. Jake
@ www.vonbondies.com

Von Bondies – “Raw and Rare” CD 15/46:36
Despite what you might expect from the title this isn’t a collection of demos and/or rarities but rather a gathering of various live/BBC session tracks with mostly good sound. Garage folks with a thicker guitar sound than most of their garage brethren, caught in their element (live and rocking). If it’s true that their next album is supposed to be produced by Jerry Harrison (shudder), this might be your last chance to have a document of VB at their raw prime. David

Von Zippers - "The Crime Is Now!" CD 11/35:23
Between the fuzzed-out guitars, thundering rhythm section, and wailing harmonicas, I bet you'd never guess that these Canadians would sing about genetically modified foods, media blitz, environmental pollution, and other worldly topics (unless, of course, you're already familiar with them). I certainly didn't, and it caught me way off guard. When was the last time you heard a garage punk/rock band not sing about getting wasted and/or laid and other self-absorbed activities? It's a pretty refreshing change of pace, though the lyrics sometimes seem out of joint with the sonic barrage that integrates the genius of the early Stones, Stooges, Sonics, and Billy Childish. Definitely worth checking out. Lily
@ www.estrus.com MP3 Download

Vorwarts - “A Trip Down Memory Lane” LP 12/40:00
Reformed early Swiss band returns to vinyl, mainly new tracks except for three taken (and remastered) from an ’83 release. Surprisingly enough some of their “new” material is actually better than their “vintage” stuff, (not that the latter exactly rates as KBD quality mind you). Aside from an ill-advised Vibrators cover (and a song that seems to “borrow” from the Ramones’ “Swallow My Pride”), this rates as solid-to-pretty good, which beats more than one reformed band’s output. David
@ Zurich Chainsaw Massacre, jloderer@yahoo.de

Vowels – “In Cahoots with…” CD 11/28:42
Don’t judge a CD by its cover art. The Vowels CD features fun and savvy cartoon of bugs in matching suits playing in a band, yet “…these are not fashionable people. These are music dorks who decided to start a band.”   This is how the Vowels describe themselves on their website, and it’s evident in the music. The Vowels rock, but sometimes the rock is jerky, awkward, almost stammering drums beats, as in “Idiot Switch”. The guitars are always punky and loud and even fierce at times. The dorkyness comes through in the vocals, which are sometimes fun and silly, other times, unremarkable or unflattering, as in “Gutterball”. It’s evident these dorks are having fun but I’m not sure that the joke is for everyone. Pam
@ www.theseaisle.com

Vytear - “The Great Rubber Audio” CD 16/61:01
Richard D. James is brilliant for (among many other reasons) pioneering a genre of music that, if well-imitated, sounds limitlessly inventive. In that vein, San Francisco’s Vytear would have struck me as fucking brilliant if I hadn’t already heard most of these schizophrenic, anti-dance-music tactics employed on past Aphex Twin albums. Though on second thought, Vytear is probably still deserving of the “brilliant” label. The intensely layered, fucked-yet-inherently logical songs on “The Great Rubber Audio” are what Aphex Twin would sound like if Richard D. James hadn’t given up on connecting with his fans. Clever genre switch-ups, complex melodies, and oddly pleasing synthesizer abortions are the norm, all underpinned by a fearless and seemingly random sense of humor. Definitely one of the most adventurous electronic albums I’ve heard in awhile. Impossible to predict, endlessly pleasing. Like a sexy computer virus raping a German keyboard, only juicier. Attention spans need not apply. John
@ www.g25productions.com

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