Vendetta Red

Between the Never and the Now

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Seattle-by-way-of-California combo Vendetta Red's Epic debut is a solid, even graceful collection of post-grunge guitar heroics, driving mid-tempo rhythms, and concurrently soaring/searing vocal workouts, the latter courtesy of Roger Daltrey-haired frontman Zach Davidson. The boys are quite convincing on Between the Never and the Now, whether they're channeling the yearning of emo during the child-abuse ballad "Stay Home," boiling down hardcore's aggression and speed to the essentials of a shout-along chorus and shredding chord progression in "Opiate Summer," or turning the trad rock of Travis on its ear with "Seconds Away" and "There Only Is." (Davidson shares more than a little vocal similarity with that band's Fran Healy). Vendetta Red's fabulously triumphant single "Shatterday" is also the best Sunny Day Real Estate rewrite to come along in quite a while. Complete with enormous, guitar-heavy dynamics and a gang vocal breakdown, the track is sure to spark a few lighters at summer 2003's Warped Tour, if the kids still do that kind of thing. "Shatterday" is actually just one of seven songs appearing here that were originally part of White Knuckled Substance, the band's 2001 LP on Seattle indie Loveless. Though the production and mixing of Jerry Finn (Green Day, Sum 41) refuels them with a sick bottom end and plenty of thick six-string mud slinging and clarifies the alternating screech and tear-jerking croon of Davidson's vocals to startling effect, the songs are still basically the same. This is important, because it proves that Vendetta Red had the goods long before Epic and the allure of unlimited studio hours ever came a-calling. Between the Never's new songs aren't too shabby, either. "Lipstick Tourniquets" stands on a patch of ground between arching, angular post-punk and 1950s doo wop, sounding like a Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers side intercut with an old Jesus Lizard noise experiment. Meanwhile, "Caught You Like a Cold"'s roiling lead riff nods to the ax-heavy history of Vendetta Red's adopted hometown. Vendetta Red isn't doing anything spectacularly new with its Epic debut. But strong songwriting, compelling emotion, and the effortless regenerational abilities of youth make Between the Never and the Now a consistently rewarding revisionist rock document.

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