Bad Vibes: 'No One's Safe'

Artist: Bad Vibes
Album: No One’s Safe
Release Date: August 31, 2017
Label: Blind Owl Records

No One’s Safe, the debut album from local rock & rollers Bad Vibes, is the soundtrack for your next desert trip out.

Bad Vibes do everything just a little bit differently. Where a less dynamic band might get bogged down by the pseudo blues twang at the core of their sound, Bad Vibes inject enough unmuzzled psychedelic energy into their swampy mass of drug fueled rock & roll to make the whole thing float. There’s an almost throwback bravado to Bad Vibes absent in much of rock music nowadays. Whereas many modern rock bands opt for the slick, effortless cool of minimalism, Bad Vibes don’t shy away from dramatic composition, pairing solos and breakdowns vaguely reminiscent of the psychedelic/prog bands of the 70’s with their delta blues roots.

 

 

The album kicks off with the atmospheric blues singalong “Strange Love”, which boasts an almost Brian Jonestown Massacre-esque lead guitar line, but it’s “Trial By Fire”, the third song from No One’s Safe that puts their mixture on full display. Commencing with a vaguely Spanish melody line doubled on organ and guitar, the song builds slowly and deliberately, leading to singer Jason Meyers’ hypnotic chorus chant. Framed by Nick Sinutko’s wild farfeesa-style organ noodling, Jordan Searls’ growling bottom end & Rory Morison’s tasteful, hooky guitar work, the whole thing feels like some sort of desert trip out, and just as smoothly as it arrives it descends into the bootstomping refrain “You can’t fight fire with fire baby.

“Cathedrals” opens with a gritty, rusted out organ line, conjuring images of some haunted, drunk blues honky tonk. Overall the imagery Bad Vibes deploys is remarkably consistent and effective. From lines like “find a way down the cobbles and stones to then center of town where they bleach the bones” to “mens eyes like machetes cutting to the core, churches built on graveyards ever ever more” they project a tense, savage view of the world, highlighting all things twisted and primordial. They excel most with passages that evoke the stark brutalism of the Old American West, tucked between splintering, frenzied solo-heavy breakdowns. The band does an excellent job of playing with song structure, eschewing the standard verse – chorus pop writing style for something more meandering, akin to the messy psychedelia of Pink Floyd’s Saucerful of Secrets.

Bad Vibes, from left to right – Nick Sinutko, Rory Morison, Jason Meyers, Jordan Searls.

No One’s Safe, released by Blind Owl, the imprint helmed by Mrs. Henry’s Daniel Cervantes, is a fully realized dive into the Bad Vibes’ world, where all epiphanies lie just beyond some nameless ‘darkness’. Just jump to 1:18 in their song “Last Days” to see their propensity for finding the sweetest release amidst their most jagged of passages. “Grandfather Moon”, on the other hand capitalizes on empty space, creating a dark, brooding canvas on which organ and guitars gently exchange licks. Meyers’ voice excels in these places, as he softens the normally brittled edges into an ethereal croon. 

A naturally occurring representation of Bad Vibes’ music.

The album closes with the sprawling, transformative snarl of “Vultures” and the melancholic, yearning of “She Reverie”. The former, a perpetually evolving 8-minute odyssey, contains some of the album’s most grand and emotive musical passages, phase shifting from sharp, stuttering skanks, to reverb-heavy singalongs, to gritted teeth interlude after gritted teeth interlude. It’s in these seamless transitions that Bad Vibes’ stellar musicality is understood most completely. “She Reverie, like “Grandfather Moon”, finds the band at its most vulnerable, dropping the tripped out bloodlust prevalent on much of the album for earnest, heartfelt sentimentality – “Nowhere to go, when she’s gone I’m alone. No place to sit, so I stand by the phone & I howl” – a move made all the more potent by the band’s predilection for cutting throats.
No One’s Safe is a heavy record in more ways than one. Bad Vibes have crafted a modern album made for classic drugs, one that hearkens back to the left of center psych-blues-rock of yesteryear, while maintaining a distinctly original edge. Their unbridled musicality & striking lyrical imagery set them apart from their counterparts in the scene, and the darkness with which they imbue their sound is invigorating and palpable and exactly the kind of nihilistic abandon this town needs.
Review by: Jakob McWhinney