The Vehicle Birth


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An East Coast band with a Midwest sound, the Vehicle Birth arrange this album (their only LP) with a precision typically reserved for composers. Songs swell and ebb at the snap of a finger. Voices arise from the background offering unexpected harmonies and disharmonies, disappearing as quickly as they came. But the typical composer could never begin to create the absolute fury of a cut like "Yankeedom." The song opens with a child singing a ditty about kite flying before a throb of distorted guitar and bass floors the song from zero to 60 in a nanosecond. The cut quickly breaks down into chaos -- drum kits smashing, guitars detuning, basses humming, vocals scratching -- before the Vehicle Birth's screaming vocals return to the kite rhyme with loud moans roaring just behind the gale. "Marathon" offers an even stronger effort through its growling riff, the six-string equivalent to Paul Simonon's vocal on "Guns of Brixton." In the brief pauses between guitar lines the bassline dips ever so low like a guttural hiccup. But as "23" proves, the Vehicle Birth can be as restrained as they are emphatic. While the song does contain the now familiar vocal yell, what was a gale is now a quiet storm. Again they rely on the rolling bass to push the song gently towards its climactic chorus, complete with a backing vocal that sounds like it was hollered from the next county. The album is not without fault, however. The lyrics on "Discovery of Oxygen" are inexcusable even if they are satirical ("Don't push your luck with Mexican love signs," "The smartest man in the world doesn't know he is the smartest man in the world," and "You can't learn anymore from Hendrix"), but the "Strawberry Fields" Moog line saves it from being unlistenable. While groups like June of 44, For Carnation, and Don Caballero typically carry the torch for this genre, none can approach the 11 song epiphany that the Vehicle Birth offers here.

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