April 10, 2003

Test Spin: The Vue

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If you’re going to play the harmonica, you damn well better play the blues instead of some lousy folk-rock sing-along bullshit. Whatever else he may have done for modern rock music, Bob Dylan should be shot for establishing his shitty white-boy harmonica as some sort of standard for how the instrument should be played. Dylan, Neil Young, John Fucking Popper — all those thoughtful assholes play the harp like they’re kissing their leprous grandmother.

On their Babies Are For Petting EP, Vue shows that, among other things, they know how to play the harmonica. Jonah Buffa’s harp on “Find Your Home” sounds like it should — boozy and raw, soaked in cheap whiskey and sexual tension, the perfect counterpoint to singer Rex Shelverton’s feral moan. It’s a high point of the EP, but by no means the only one. This is a record full of high points — Shelverton sneering out the lyrics to “Babies Are For Petting” while fuzzy guitars cascade into electronic immolation, the Chuck Berry guitar riff at the beginning of “Look Out For Traffic” dissolving into an entirely modern diminished 7th progression, the Kinks-in-heat feel to the Delta-sensual “Hey Hey Not in Here.”

Derivative? Maybe it is, yeah, but at least it’s balls-out rock and not another fey, pussy Joy Division clone. Their gritty, earthy sound comes directly from the crotch, and it’s a welcome change from the lame-ass “I’m so smart and mathematical” bullshit that too often masquerades for modern rock. “I know that it won’t last, but I don’t care,” sings Shelverton. Let’s hope he’s wrong. Babies Are For Petting is nineteen minutes of sweat-drenched excellence, and I can’t wait to see what they do on their next full-length.

Archived article by Justin Peters