Bill Doss of the Sunshine Fix, talking about his creative process, said, “It’s all about appropriating these days isn’t it?”. And why shouldn’t it be? We now have some 45 years of rock to draw on for inspiration. And with different “eras” passing every few years, and our glut of music reproducing technology making recordings more accessible, the past is more present than ever before. Take a band like Vue. They’re from the Bay Area and have an absolute fascination with ‘60s garage rock, and the Stones in particular. Sound unoriginal? Well, consider that Vue’s models were young white English hipsters obsessed with black American music. The young Stones, along with many of their contemporaries, were attracted to a music that was not their own, because it promised excitement beyond their experience. This happens all the time. But in today’s smaller and ever faster-moving world, the varied past of popular music lies before us as the new exotic from which to draw.
Find Your Home betrays not only a fascination with the Stones, but with a bunch of other bands which appear, as if in ghostly cameos, throughout the disc. But ultimately the band has enough talent to revitalize its ‘60s roots, not with innovation, but with style and determination.
Find Your Home is driven by a guitar team that sounds as much like Malcolm and Angus (AC/DC) as Keith and Mick, and there are classic keyboard textures that pull things into the Doors camp on occasion. Vue’s ragged garage quality is spot-on, but you won’t confuse Find Your Home for a lost ‘60s session: the influences of the past 30 years are ever present. The tunes are not ambitious and they don’t need to be—in fact it’s refreshing that they’re not. The greatness of the Jagger/Richards songwriting team was that they seemed to stumble into brilliance. The songs and albums, as grand as they were, seemed so effortlessly made it is as if they were composed of mere run-off from the real happenings behind the scenes. You won’t find the brilliance of Jagger/Richards here, but you will find the spirit intact and some moments that are very, very good.
“Find Your Home”, the album’s closer, dips into the Doors bag with its repetitive one-note bass line and watery keyboard, while Shelverton effortlessly delivers a patient Morrison-esque chant verse and a catchy blues hook of a chorus. The harmonica’s sleepy Delta sound, which is also featured on the first tune, “Hitchhiking”, swims in the back of the mix, as is if seen through heat waves coming off of asphalt. “Do You Think of Him Still”, “People on the Stairs” and the aforementioned “Hitchhiking” boogie along relentlessly, in Stones fashion, and “Child for You” and “Pictures of Me” rock just as much.
There are a few low points in the program. “Falling Through a Window” and the stale and repetitive “You Can Take Her Now” (“I took her alone / I took her / I took her for myself” etc. etc.) both sound not effortless, but unfinished. Then there’s the unfortunate studio wankery of “Mrs. Fletcher Blues”, a tiny little anti-idea which, in its one and a half minutes, brings the record to a grinding halt. Its only redeeming quality is that in its aftermath the burning “Child for You” seems even taller.
The quality that places Vue deepest into the garage is Rex Shelverton’s skinny white boy shouting. The odd “oof”, “hey!” and “ow!”, and the decadent pitch drop at the end of nearly every word come from Mick Jagger certainly, and Jim Morrison through, most likely, some ‘80s intermediaries (perhaps The Cult’s Ian Astbury). And then on “We’ve Already Got Our Minds Made Up for You” you might detect Bob Dylan’s sneer. Shelverton’s got good taste, certainly, and if he’s not 100% comfortable in the persona he’s developing, it will be interesting to see what happens in records to come.
// Notes from the Road
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