Music

Bomb the Music Industry!: Vacation

The band may not have completely revolutionized the music industry, but they have crafted an incredibly joyous, infectious listen -- the perfect summer album.


Bomb the Music Industry!

Vacation

Label: Ernest Jenning Record Co.
US Release Date: 2011-07-26
UK Release Date: 2011-07-26
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Calls for an upheaval of a music industry that prioritizes profit over artistic ability have been heard by plenty of artists over the past decade. Amidst all the talk, there have actually been decisive actions to change the way we buy and listen to music. Radiohead’s “pay-what-you-can” experiment with In Rainbows was a significant success. Two of this year’s finest releases, The Weeknd’s House of Balloons and Frank Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra were released for free on their artists' respective websites. And while multi-platinum pop artists still manage to do very well, independent musicians who are making music for the sake of music are still able to craft and release great records. Bomb the Music Industry! takes the independent artist spirit quite seriously; not only is their name a rally call for an overhaul of the cold professionalism of modern music labels, the band even has released the majority of their studio output for free on their website. (The pay-what-you-can concept that Radiohead popularized was actually done by this band prior to the release of In Rainbows).

Vacation, the band’s sixth LP, is more indicative of the album title than the band’s name. The music, while very good, is by no means a complete 180 from anything that’s been done before. The album’s ska-tinged punk isn’t too far off from the band’s past outings, nor is the record full of calls to arms against the music industry. The most unconventional thing does is end the album with 25 minutes of silence with random bits of the band’s banter. The music does, however, sound like a perfect vacation accompaniment; the album’s optimism, shown effectively through the use of glockenspiel and buzzy synths throughout the record, is evocative of beaches spent on summer’s shores, not unlike the one on the album’s cover art. Quite aptly, Vacation is one of the most summer-sounding records of the year; it’s a record that sounds like it was a blast to record and, as a result, is a great joy to listen to.

The album’s sunny disposition starts with the very first track. “Campaign for a Better Next Weekend” begins with a piano part that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Coldplay record. Fortunately, instead of transforming it into one of Coldplay’s syrupy-sweet inspirational pep songs, the band uses that to build up into a glorious, guitar-driven climax, with power chords kicking the song’s sanguine tone into overdrive. The song sets the stage and mood for the rest of the record, while also keeping the album grounded in a sense of honest happiness instead of idealized fantasy. Even when the songs venture into the more pop-oriented punk (such as “Can’t Complain,” which recalls some of Relient K’s earlier material), the merriment doesn’t sound forced.

Throughout the record, the band recognizes the reality of hard times, even as they try to withhold cynicism over the difficulties that face the world. “So leave me here; you can just leave me here / To find something new so I don’t feel as good as dead”, vocalist Jeff Rosenstock sings on “Vocal Coach”. The adversities of the past and the present can be seen clearly throughout the entire record, but the band doesn’t let what many see as bleak times overpower their positive energy. When Rosenstock sings, “And I’m glad it wasn’t like that summer when everybody died” on “Sick, Later”, one can only laugh at how he seemingly brushes off the things that would haunt most people. Given the harsh economic climate the world faces, not to mention the multiple wars being waged, it’s nice to see a band, especially a punk band that’s been no stranger to cynical observations, with something of a smile on their face. And there’s no better time to express that sentiment; summer records tend to be the best time for exuberant music. The brief interlude “Sponge Board/Baby Waves” recalls summer favorites The Beach Boys with its vocal harmonies. “Why, Oh Why, Oh Why (Oh Oh Oh Oh)”, with its vocal filler-driven chorus, also harkens back to the music of the '50s and '60s, songs that didn’t take the time to be pretentious or complicated and instead took the time to be just plain fun.

This mood continues on for the entirety of the record, even during the album’s slower moments. Album highlight “The Shit that You Hate” interestingly mirrors LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down” in its slow pace leading to an explosive finale, as well as its witty, self-deprecating lyrics. The song sings of “black sea monsters” but ultimately comes to recognize that “sorrow don’t answer problems”, ending with a rousing chorus of “The shit that you hate / Don’t make you special!” Like “Campaign for a Better Next Weekend”, it demonstrates the band’s skill with dynamics: beginning with a softly strummed acoustic guitar and a cracked vocal, the song eventually explodes with a burst of horns, electric guitars, and a shouted chorus that is bound to be a live favorite.

While the album’s optimism is impressive, what is equally impressive is its tenacity; the band fires on all cylinders until the album’s end. Even during the album’s less impressive moments (“Everybody that You Love” and “Savers”, both dependable but unimpressive punk jams), the band is still giving the music their all.

Although Bomb the Music Industry! may not have laid waste to the music business with this record, they have made an incredibly enjoyable listen that is clearly a product of talented musicians who love their craft. Now that may not be a bomb to the music industry, especially since there are many such artists making music today. But even if the band isn't mounting an attack as their name suggests, they are making great music, which, given the quality of this record, is just as fine.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image