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.

 





THE VACANT LOTS: Endless Nights.

20 04 2017

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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.





THE VACANT LOTS: Berlin EP.

23 11 2016

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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.





THE VACANT LOTS: Moth Club, 20th November 2016.

21 11 2016

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Ever waited what seemed an eternity to see a band you absolutely adore? Have you tried to see them previously and things get in your way? Was nothing going to stop you this time? I get it, I really do. It happened twice to me this weekend and I’m going to write about both- starting with last night.

I first wrote about The Vacant Lots around 2 years ago. I wrote about them after spending a few months listening to them prior and trying to process what they meant to me, and how the music made me feel. I’ve probably been too quick at times writing about a band without taking the time to understand what’s going on, but I write as a fan and not some person who’s employed to over hype a load of bullshit gullible souls will buy into. Last night I took myself on a 5 minute bus journey to the Moth Club. The perks of being close to decent venues in a city I’ve grown to dislike. Get me out, please. Live music is my escape for the things that weigh me down. The Vacant Lots felt like something else last night. Whatever happened for that hour or so will stay with me. I wasn’t trapped in a place that harms my mind, it was taken elsewhere. But you want to know about the show, right?

Their set opens with Departure. If this wasn’t going to make the crowd pumped, I really don’t know what would. I was internally praying for High And Low to be played but I was also hoping for Paint This City because that’s on the same level. Paint The City made the set and I’m pretty sure I had my eyes closed for that whole song. When you hear the songs that get you out of any jam your brain traps you in, you do your best to zone out. Zone out was exactly what I did. I felt like no one was around me and everything was as alright as can be.

The Vacant Lots are a fascinating band to watch. As Jared shuts his eyes during the songs, you wonder where his mind is going. Brian’s face expresses so much during certain songs- you identify with everything that is happening on stage because these are the songs that have held you together so for some time. The way Jared prowls about on the stage holding his guitar as if it is a weapon, and at the end of the set bashes it up against the ceiling to create even more noise. Exactly 2 years ago I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain for the first time in Manchester, and I left with a comforting ringing in my ear. Go forward 2 years and it is happening again. Nothing really happened last year, mind. The Vacant Lots are part dreamy, part riot. You don’t know what you’re going to get and they leave you on edge. As someone who has really shit anxiety, I, for some reason find this massively comforting. I didn’t know what to expect during every song and I love that. I love when a band takes you right into the belly of the unknown and away from what surrounds you.

Mad Mary Jones sends everyone off into a whirl but I’m standing by Paint This City being the highlight for me. Some bands, as I’ve mentioned many times before, hold this notion of being something sacred. Something that is your escape, and yours to keep. For me, The Vacant Lots capture this so well. I didn’t make their last London show, but I saw photos of Jared’s bloody guitar. Part of me was hoping for blood last night but I got something better- I saw the real heart of The Vacant Lots.

Their Berlin EP comes out this Friday and I’ll put a review up this week as they are selling copies at their shows this week. If you go see them, buy a copy.

As I mentioned at the start, when you wait so long to see a band you absolutely adore- it means the world to you and it stays with you. I can safely say that this was one of the most emotional and intense shows I’ve been to in a long time.





THE VACANT LOTS.

16 03 2014

 

“I got me a Cadillac,
I ain’t coming back.”

Today is my mum’s birthday, and with only £30 in my bank account I am pretty much sulking (and sad) that I’ve not seen her as it costs a lot more to fly home to see her . I’m probably turning into some recluse, but for now I don’t really care. I’ve got things to keep me occupied, and with my neighbour being an obnoxious tool again- I’m resorting to playing my music loud enough to drown out his awful dance remixes of Lana Del Rey and fuck knows what else. I wish it would stop.

So, much to my neighbour’s annoyance and my own pleasure, I am currently listening to a band called The Vacant Lots. Yes, they are a duo. What of it? As if you expected anything else from me. The Vacant Lots sound like The Jesus And Mary Chain with hints of Rimbaud in their lyrics. They also remind me of Spiritualized, so basically I’ve just found my dream band. High And Low is my current favourite. The come down in this song is beautiful. As someone who feels low (but not to the point where it is up for discussion with anyone) this is the kind of music that makes it all a little less daunting. Hope can abandon you, and when it does its evil counterpart comes to take over. I thought this only happened in books. Fuck.

The Vacant Lots are a band I am really excited to hear more from, their debut record is set to finally come out this year, and I think they’ve released some stuff via the ever wonderful, Mexican Summer label.

You listen to their music and you’re thrown back into a time where music was pleasantly dark and grimy. The kind of music people were scared to listen to. I always wish I was old enough to have seen The Jesus And Mary Chain live at the start where fights would erupt at the end of the shows; I’m pretty sure if The Vacant Lots were a band back then people would be beating the shit out of each other to their music. However, violence is wrong and disgusting. So you should just listen to them and zone out. Nod your head furiously, as if it might just snap off your body. Let loose and all that jazz.

6AM is dark. A real gnarly song that isn’t for those who are afraid of the dark. The kind of song that makes you feel as if you’re being followed. I’m playing it pretty loudly, and I think it is the way to go. As I listen to The Vacant Lots, I immediately get that feeling I got when I first heard Pop.1280- as if I’m listening to something really menacing. Sacred Bones Records should sign up this duo because they would fit right at home on their label. Any label would be lucky enough to have these guys. They make me wish I had my own label, because this is the kind of stuff I would put out.

Jared and Brian started the band in 2010 I think, and as I’ve gone through what I can find of their music- I can safely say they are on something else. A lot of bands I listen to are quite loud and sinister, but The Vacant Lots take it somewhere else. They pretty much take you where other bands may want to shy away from. I always though Seventeen Seconds by The Cure was one of the most haunting records I ever heard- but as I listen to The Vacant Lots, I’m fairly sure I’ve found a solid competitor. This the kind of music that gives you a high like no other. I’ve never touched drugs (I flinch at having to take paracetamol for my frequent headaches) but I’m positive you can experience a high from other things. From a really good book to music that really shakes you up. The Vacant Lots are that kind of high. I just want them on repeat. The perfect band to listen to as darkness falls.

The hints of reverb in their music is something a lot of bands want to replicate and sound real desperate when they do it. The Vacant Lots do it, and it sounds natural. This is a band with a sure-fire sound. A real solid groove that will probably make most turn their nose up at because they don’t get it. But I get it, and I love it. This is the kind of music I play on a daily basis, and it just does something to me. It is a fearless sound for someone who is sometimes a bit of a coward.

I’m aware I write too personally, and it means hardly anyone reads what I write. So if you’ve skipped over what I’ve written, I get it. But do me one favour, and just click this link and listen to The Vacant Lots because they are one of the best bands around: http://thevacantlots.bandcamp.com

I have no idea when their record is out, but I’m pretty hopeful it’ll be one of the best releases of the year for sure.