This is the kind of drugged-out hippie rock we've been waiting for. We're talking flower power shooting serious h-bomb. It's Velvet Underground meets Dylan - sloppy but together, and almost as powerful as their predecessors. On their self-titled debut full-length, VietNam has created the type of album that lays the groundwork for an entire career.
These four shamelessly hairy dudes are working off the same blueprint that has always made great rock music, and they aren't technically proficient enough to fuck it up, running off scales or trying to show off their dexterity. Instead, they craft massive crescendos, crank up some distortion, and let what's inside bleed out over simple, guttural rhythms.
Sordid tales like "Mr. Goldfinger" come to life on the lips of bandleader Michael Gerner:
"A couple whores on the side are keeping daddy alive/ what's an old man to do... It ain't easy giving head to a man almost dead/ but sometimes green is a lucrative charm... Well, money and class are just a pain in the ass for me/ but if you stick it under my nose/ I'll sniff up and glow/ in the ecstasy."
These are the type of guys who "cook up a twenty for a breath of fresh air" ("Toby"), and sing about "feeling so much better even under the weather/ from the pills you stole from the rich girl on Bowery's medicine cabinet" ("Summer In The City").
While it's true VietNam would be nothing without the deranged mind and desperate delivery of Gerner, it's the subtleties that take this record to the next level. The lush strings on opener "Step On Inside," the blaring horns on "Apocalypse," cameos from Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle), Jesse Carmichael (Maroon 5), and the fact that the whole thing was recorded 100-percent analog, it's the little things that make this record a very big deal.
VietNam is living the music they make. Everything, from the look to their back story to the name, screams SEX, DRUGS AND ROCK & ROLL! There's nothing overly brilliant, and it's not even all that original, but by drafting the glory of yesteryear's rock heroes and tweaking it to present day Brooklyn, VietNam has made an album as good as anything that's hit the streets in the past six months. All you really need to know is that VietNam is dirty like a night with some girl you met at a bar who doesn't even care that you don't know her name. Yeah, it feels just that good.
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