VHS or Beta's Zeke Buck's new duo lays down big anguished guitars next to synthy soundwashes... in a weird hybrid of the Cure and Nirvana.
If you buy the 20-year cycle theory, we are getting very close to grunge revival, a time when names like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and, ahem, Temple of the Dog will be dropped with offhanded reverence. Zeke Buck's post-VHS or Beta project is getting the jump on the trend with 10 dark-toned, arena-friendly songs that combine the Cure's doomed melodramatics with late grunge's glossy angst. It's a large-scale sound for just two players -- Buck is paired with drummer Matt Johnson. You automatically picture hockey arena crowds and dry ice fumes, but not without a vulnerable side. Best cuts here, anthemic opener "A Million Lives" and 1970s-shredding "The Sun and the Moon, The Moon and the Sea" channel genuine feeling through dense textures of guitar and drum. There's a too-slick, late 1980s MTV drama at work the opening vocals of "The Killing Fields", but it's eviscerated by a sinister, snake-y guitar riff. Funny, when a self-released debut sounds sleeker and more commercial than the stuff on the majors.