Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Leipzig alternative rock trio VELCROS drops debut album, Strange News from the Vault!

Release date: March 22, 2024 | Crayzsane Records | Bandcamp | Instagram

It’s an overcast afternoon at a Baltic Sea beach near Rostock. Your hands depressed in the cool sand, wishing your parents wouldn’t have dragged you out here in late-March, wishing you were back in Leipzig with your Jazzcaster, and wishing for a distant past to appear in the near future. Fret not, young man, the vibes all around you might be going to shit, but not without a soundtrack! Submerge into the retro-rock noise on this debut VELCROS album, Strange News From the Vault.

The aptly titled opening track, “Starting Now”, is a terrific pick-me-up. The twangly guitar tone and arpeggiated riff on the intro sounds uplifted from something by The Smiths. Then the vocal melody in the chorus touches ground near the iconic Beatles tune, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It’s as warm and nostalgic as the music video suggests. Read more about that here.

Following that, “Hollowed”, is one of the most blood-pumping tracks on the album. The post-punk urgency on the drums coupled with the spicier chord changes are reminiscent of Autolux‘s more uptempo repertoire. There’re nods of Wavves or blood sister that fans of the Bay Area slacker-beach-rock scene will surely savor as well. The track wraps in an extended outro section with an experimental edge verging on Microcastle-era Deerhunter vibe. Certified banger.

The album’s energetic pace is maintained throughout the fuzzy and oddly cheery “Troubled Mind”. For a song under three minutes, the sections stack-up nicely too. One’s left humming that angular melody in the chorus for the rest of the day. It’s here where a Cloud Nothings resemblance begins to click. Dylan Baldi would likely have no qualms with that either, given their shared penchant for short-ish songs where the drums drive and the hooks stick.

This connection gets clearer as the album progresses. For example, the searing guitar chords at the front-door of “Devotion” that harken to the intro of Cloud Nothing‘s “Wasted Days”. Both tracks are powerful and dipped in a bit of bitterness and angst. But instead of a screaming crescendo, VELCROS wind down as the lyric ‘Was it ever about your devotion?‘ repeats over an extended outro. The song slowly fades away like a candle burning the last of its wick, and the devotion in question dubiously fades with it.

There’re heaps of highlights in the second half of the record too, like the memorable lyric ‘Someone else’s fault‘ on “Sooner Later”, the Deerhoof-esque guitar solo on “Bitter Lake”,  and the enchanting falsetto vocals towards the end of “Floater”. But the anxious energy of the instrumentals don’t always gel with the mellower vocals. Maybe the muted emotion is holding up a mirror to our society? We’re inundated with horrific news daily and numbing to it. In this sense, “Fading Too” is the highlight that shines the brightest.

It’s a thoughtful piece of experimental rock that conjures up the somber side of Pink Floyd while still feeling wholly modern. The warbling guitar chords, hushed yet lush vocals, and very light percussion are really refreshing. And at the track eight position on the album, this change of pace is honestly as welcomed as it is necessary. There’s a song on Grey‘s 2019 release, Age Hasn’t Spoiled You, called “Western Guilt” that could definitely be on a playlist right before or after it. Great vibe.

Strange New From the Vault closes on a high note with “The Invisible Hand”. The warm and sentimental character of the opening track return lending the album an extra helping of cohesion. There’s a whiff of Built to Spill coming to the senses that now feels like an obvious influence. The guitar solo is tastefully done, and ending the record with the line ‘We’re running out of time‘ feels very VELCROS at this point.

There is a strange contradiction between the brisk instrumentals and the softer vocal delivery that might not be for everyone, but when the band leans more into that strangeness they undeniably exude excellent results (e.g. “Hollowed”, and “Fading Too”). And despite sounding similar to some of alternative’s beloved artists, VELCROS mostly form a voice their own or improve upon their influences. They’ve crafted an apt soundtrack for trekking back from the beach to sit alone in your room and play guitar with your headphones cranked.

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