Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Vendetta Red

December 11, 2003

Ok, ok. So, Vendetta Red’s debut album “Between the Never and the Now” is a bit old. To the extent of about 6 months old. But, it garners my vote for most underrated album of the year. Why? It’s thoroughly original, of course.

Vendetta Red is angry. Very angry. Angry enough that about 5 tracks that end in an all-out miasma of screaming, slashing guitars and other noise. But that’s only half the picture. About half of these songs are in a major key. Their singer is so spot-on perfect that songs like “Shatterday” and “There Only Is” resonate around not just a chorus, but a single haunting line. The vocals span almost two and a half octaves, bringing an amazing amount of drama and intensity to this.  Their screaming is just amazing, bringing a fearful emotion to songs such as “Stay Home”, where singer Davidson screams “She said son! He didn’t mean it! There’s something wicked on the inside!” It looks so cliché, but it will give you a shiver. The lyrics here read like a gothic diary, where death, gore, pain, and abstract poetry abound.  Some are fantastic, such as the aforementioned “Stay Home”, a burning, pointed-finger expose at child abuse. Others have meanings that are unrecognizable, such as the morose “Ambulance Chaser”, and others are anger filled rants (The dangerously bridge-burning “Por Vida”). The songs themselves range from the neo-punk “Opiate Summer” to the hardcore madness of “Por Vida” to the dark, moody emo of “Lipstick Tourniquets”. Most fit in the major-keyed anger-rock vents of “Seconds Away”, and they are fantastic.

You need this album. This is one of the most exceptional albums released this year, and it’s under the radar. VR is on Epic, people!!! It’s not like this one’s a hard one to find. If you like the word emo, this will make it onto your top 10 list.

Read, Listen, Buy: www.vendettared.com

Stellas

I hate it when good bands make live albums, cause live albums usually suck. No matter how good the live show is, the goods just can’t get transferred into CD form. And that’s with the major label people. Independent live CDs are scary affairs….very scary.

Don’t get me wrong; the Stellas have an infectious, fun live show.  The female fronted power pop/punkish vibes they so blissfully exude lead me to hold high opinions, despite previous knowledge of live albums.

This CD is actually two concerts in one, a live concert at the legendary CBGB’s in NYC, and another at the sadly not-so-legendary Green Door. The better of the two is definitely Green Door, as a hometown crowd and some guest backup vocals help them out immensely. The CBGB concert is crowd-dead, and there just seems to be no energy in the band. As all the CBGB songs are doubled in the Green Door part of the CD, you should just skip the first part.

The Green Door section is pretty good. The Stellas go for a harsher set of vocals than on their studio album,  drifting in and out between poignant, perfect melodies and harsh, raw moments. It’s a bit odd if you’re acquainted with “Umbrellas”, but not too bad at all for newcomers. There are two new songs, both of which sound intriguing enough that you want to repeat them. Tyson Meade, vocalist from the Chainsaw Kittens, is featured in some songs, and sadly, he doesn’t fit their sound at all, except on the spectacular version of “Just What I Needed/Da Da Da” whose darker tone fits the occasional screams dropped in by Meade perfectly and induces shivers. Besides that song, he pretty much overpowers everything, and ruins the few songs he is present in. That aspect of this album is very unfortunate.

There’s nothing much else to say about this. It’s a very average live CD, as most of the songs stick to the way they were written. I’d personally check out “Music for Umbrellas” or a live show over this CD. Whichever way you do it, check out the Stellas. Their power-pop pizazz is just too good to pass up.

Read: www.thestellasloveyou.com

Listen: www.sonicblitz.com

Buy: www.sonicblitz.com

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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