Hear Big (Top) Pop from Vanilla!
Up until their latest release, Sideshow, I’d been unaware of Tacoma Washington’s Vanilla. I don’t know how they escaped my radar. Nevertheless, I’m so happy I found them. Stylistically diverse, they possess a rare combination of charm and sophistication. Each song feels natural, regardless of the chosen genre or style.
Thematically, life’s disappointment seems to be the common thread. That said, stylistically, Vanilla is all over the place – from power pop to countrified twang. This keeps the listener in anxious anticipation of what might be next.
“Sorry” starts things off with some straight ahead power pop, leading to one of the album’s many highlights. “It’s Drunk and I’m Raining” captures an alcoholic’s perspective while “Milkmen” is another dark perspective on our inevitably dashed hopes and dreams. The vocal arrangement in “Rain” is brilliant. Stylistic crooning a la Roy Orbison put this track over the top.
Madness, Cash and Pop
The opening lyric to “If Misery Loves Company” is wonderful.
If misery loves company, we will pass triumphantly into the Land of Broken Hearts. Where anger is integrity and sweetness is a felony and joy is just the sum of broken parts.
Wandering yet another stylistic path, “Lonely Was His Name” has a country twang to it. It wouldn’t sound out of place on one of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums. And if you play the vinyl version of this recording at 45 rpm, it almost becomes a Madness song.
Where to Get Vanilla’s Sideshow
I haven’t enjoyed listening to anything quite this much in a while. Vanilla’s Sideshow is bound to appear on numerous best power pop lists come the end of the year. Get the CD at Kool Kat Musik or the digital version at the band’s bandcamp page. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.