Screeching onto to your stereos comes Vessel. The Auckland based trio is here with their debut EP Friday Drive, and it’s a kick ass piece of garage rock. The obvious reference point is the old fashioned hard rock of The Datsuns, but Vessel have a leaner sound, less prone to flashy theatrics.
Topics of conversation include the heartbreak of opener “My Obsession”, general bad behaviour in “White Trash”, and character tales like “June Marine” and “Friday Drive”. No matter the focus though, Vessels attacks each song with squealing guitar feedback and energetic scream-a-longs. The rhythm section tend to play it restrained, content to find a groove and settle in, but they provide the backbone each song needs for when guitarist Elmo Strauss wants to leave a riff behind and show off his chops.
If there is a probably with these kick-out-the-jam rockers, it’s that they’ve already found themselves a template, and stick to it. Enough so that tracks can blur together if listened to in one sitting. Each song breaks down into a jam about two thirds of the way in, and the trio continue to bounce off of one another as they fade out. While these guys are all talented enough to hold interest, it can get repetitive.
Fortunately the EP’s peak, “Flipper Baby” arrives just as things are starting to get a little predictable. The song’s low rumbling menace stands out amongst the feel good boogie of the other tracks. Struass reveals an aching scream, one far more aching than those he’s employed elsewhere. Much like the other tracks, it rides a fairly simple riff that allows room for improvisation and the solid interplay. But here, the atmosphere is thick, and there’s a sense of that these guys may be hiding some darker feelings beneath the drink and screw party boasts. Hopefully future releases allow them to explore these other facets of their personalities. Until then though, I’m more than happy to keep on partying.
Reviewed by Liam Golds
Ben Blackman, of Vessel is currently also one of our talented writers for keepingupwithnz.com. Proof of NZ’s two degrees!