The Vacant Lots - Departure

by Jim Harris Rating:9 Release Date:2014-07-01

The Vacant Lots open their debut album with a catchy, brilliant psych tune, ‘Mad Mary Jones’, which is trippy and noisy and sounds like something Syd Barrett would have happily written. The rest of Departure supports the contention that this is one of the hottest new bands out there.

While this is a two-piece band and pretty minimalist in execution, Jared Artaud (vocals, guitars, drone) and Brian MacFadyen (drums, vocals, electronics) have a strangely rich sound. It’s not surprising they will be touring England with Brian Jonestown Massacre, as Jared and Brian have that similar snarling Stones esthetic on tracks like ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘Never Satisfied’. 

Add to that some pretty loud, noisy tracks like ‘6 AM’, plenty of reverb and echoey drones to compliment the guitar and drums, and you have a great new release. A stunning spoken-word, Velvet Underground sounding track, ‘Make the Connection’, is the next-to-last track and is executed beautifully with the refrain, "Eyes wide awake…watching life…disappear".

This band is from Burlington, Vermont but you would think they were channeling, both vocally and instrumentally, that San Francisco indie progenitor who started The Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn. Jared can match Wynn with his dead-pan delivery, and the stark landscapes of Wynn’s lyrics are also present and just as powerful on Departure.

It would be an awesome concert to see The Vacant Lots and Ought on the same bill, as they have to be two of the best new bands out there this year and they also seem to share a similar poetic, psych-rock mentality which both execute beautifully. It doesn’t hurt to have Sonic Boom mixing and mastering your album either. The Vacant Lots are getting a lot of press lately and it is well-deserved.

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