You probably noticed an influx of Vintage Blue posts between mid-December and January. They played the House Of Blues, came by to record a Hasty Revelations session, AND had their record release party in the span of one month. That’s why I waited until the last minute to review Strike The Mics, which finally sees its release tomorrow, February 14th.
If you read any of my other posts about the band, you know that I dig their music and think they’re stand up gents. On their debut record they accomplish what they set out to do: announce themselves to the world as an original band and display some of the things they’re capable of doing musically.
I’ve already said quite a bit about them, so let me just highlight a couple of songs from the record that give you a pretty good idea of what they’re all about.
“California Road” is the third track, and this is where they seem to really get comfortable with their sound. It starts off pretty and quiet for the first verse before exploding with guitars and saxophone leading into the chorus. This is also the first song with a lot of harmonies, which Vintage Blue does quite well. “Set You Free,” the first track, includes harmonies in a more subtle way. “California” is a mid-range rocker. They sometimes get harder on the record, and sometimes more soft, but this song feels like the best starter.
The other song is “The Great Divide.” This is the albums big ballad. It features Ryan Tibbs on vocals and guitar, cello, and backing vocals from Caitlin Simone. It’s a refreshing song in that it feels very genuine. Too often I hear songs that are supposed to be love song, but they’re so mired in metaphor and production that they lose focus. So it’s good to hear something straight from the heart:
“I looked for you across the ocean, I searched for you but the anchors tied. I paid my dues with pure devotion. To be with you I sold my, sold my pride. So I will climb this mountainside. For you I’d cross the great divide.”
The dynamic that the band has is amazing. Tibbs and Ben Bassett trade off on vocals, and Bassett adds some awesome guitar riffs. Matt Zimmerman on keys and sax provides all the texture. And Will Crowden and Cesar Corral supply the heart with bass and percussion.
Their influences are many, but they rely heavily on 90’s stalwarts like the Dave Matthews Band and Mighty Mighty Bosstones (though I personally think Vintage Blue is better than either of those bands). You’ll also get pieces of 60’s rock and 70’s AM radio pop. Making the transition from cover band to original artists is a tough one to make, but Strike The Mics proves that these guys have the chops to do it.