Music

The Vines: The Best of the Vines

James Greene, Jr.

A somewhat preemptive musical highlight reel from the most popular autism-afflicted Aussie rock band of the third Millennium.


The Vines

The Best of the Vines

Label: Capitol
US Release Date: 2008-03-11
UK Release Date: 2008-04-07
Amazon
iTunes

When last I spoke to you of neo-garage mall rockers from foreign lands, I made note of the fact that, contrary to popular belief, the Vines were not rocketed into deep space shortly after their initial burst of fame (where, lacking sufficient oxygen and/or insulation, they presumably died) as part of a nefarious doomsday plot hatched by the evil mole people who live beneath the Earth’s surface. The Australian group actually remains alive on our planet, and they’ve been lucky enough to produce three albums worth of slightly unhinged rock slop. As the dirty ragamuffins work towards completing an unprecedented fourth, they present us, the weary iPod masses, with this Best of the Vines.

You may be asking yourself how it is that all these 21st century bands with maddeningly short discographies keep getting away with releasing best-of collections. There is no answer, aside from the fact we’re rapidly approaching 2012, the year that so much alarmist literature has pointed to as the last waltz for mankind. If the pamphlets I’ve read are anywhere near correct, we’re a scant half decade away from total eradication at the hands of a giant asteroid, the Antichrist, and/or a 50-foot-tall robotic Norman Fell (most likely constructed by the mole people). Doom is approaching with a capital D, and there’s a clear rush to remember and cash in on the good times of our brief but wonderful third Millennium. Hey man, remember razor scooters? You’ll wish you held on to yours when Robo-Roper is chasing you and all the other doomsday survivors through the barren, radioactive wasteland that used to be the North Pole.

For the most part, The Best of the Vines proves these Aussie neo-garage rockers are a musical force to be reckoned with. At their best, the Vines are able to present decades-old rock concepts in a manner that’s fresh, lively, and decidedly post-Y2K. The popularity of “Get Free” was mostly based on the combination of its sinew-tearing riff, the spastic ADHD arrangement, and front man Craig Nicholl’s unhinged screaming; strip all that away and at the core is a classic pop melody not unlike something pulled from the early Beatles catalog. The Fab Four are one of the Vines’ most transparent influences, along with Nirvana, a band that has yet to garner an eternally cute nickname. There are only a couple of instances where the presence of these rock 'n’ roll ghosts is overwhelming (specifically, the “Ob La Di” rip-off “Factory” and the Cobain-by-numbers “Animal Machine”). I suppose the Vines could have worse musical spirits infecting their work. The sonic horror that would have resulted had these gents been raised on a steady diet of Rockwell and Men Without Hats is too frightening to imagine.

If this record has any weakness, it’s that it’s a bit long in the tooth. By the time you hit track twelve, the bittersweet “Homesick”, the complete Vines agenda has been hammered home aplenty. It seems the band could have deleted some of the fluffier ballads that pad out this hits collection. It’s almost as if they’re trying to say to the listener, “Yeah, we were that one really crazy band from the early oughts, the one that got all up in Dave Letterman’s Kool-Aid and generally freaked everyone out with loud rock 'n’ roll, but we can be all nice and sensitive, too.” Breezy delights “Winning Days” and “Valley Vision” are proof enough of that. The rest, including “Autumn Shade” parts one and two, could have been left on their respective albums. Another hindrance is that The Best of the Vines begins with what are arguably the three biggest tunes in the Vines’ entire catalog (the previously discussed “Get Free”, the head-bobbing car commercial anthem “Ride”, and the swaggering load of attitude that is “Highly Evolved”). Spacing these hits out would have been a tad more advantageous.

You can’t tell these wild, unpredictable, Napster-era rockers how to track their greatest hits, though. If they want their hottest stuff up front, then by golly, that’s how it’s going to be. These Vines live by their own rules. A firm hand on the shoulder and look in the eye will not dissuade them from atonally covering OutKast songs, substantially detuning their guitars in the middle of high profile US television performances, or from having a drummer named Hamish. I can’t take umbrage, though, so long as this group continues to release albums containing barely together, scream-drenched rock nuggets sandwiched between half-baked stabs at McCartney-esque musical dreamscapes. This will provide a nice soundtrack as I work on my fallout shelter, helping me to recall a time when the worry of 2012 and rising mole person/human aggression took a backseat to the unbelievable exploits of the Osbourne family, the inspiring early films of Mandy Moore, and the incredible breakthrough that was the sabermetrics baseball analysis system.

7
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.