By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
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The San Francisco-based quintet Vue, a band in touch with the purest of rock 'n' roll's primordial ooze, is regularly hit with observations regarding its similarities to other seminal stalwarts. Guitarist Jonah Buffa puts up with the volleys of comparisons but defies anyone who would try to pigeonhole Vue as "retro." When asked if he and his bandmates are conscious of similarities to the Velvet Underground or the Rolling Stones, Buffa retorts: "Yes, and we're conscious of how much we're like AC/DC or the Doors or Duran Duran or Chuck Berry. We don't go about recording or writing to make music that sounds old. There is a whole range of sounds to pick and draw from, so maybe some of the ones we like are from older music, but I don't really like making music for computers to listen to. Retro is a word used for stupid people wearing '70s clothes at a theme party."
With its second album, Find Your Home, released last fall on Sub Pop Records, Vue has recently found itself receiving comparisons to newer bands of the neoglam/garage/punk movement headed by the White Stripes, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and the Strokes. Buffa sounds a bit more comfortable about Vue's place among this group of up-and-coming bands, who, like Vue, find their inspiration in '60s and '70s rock, be it punk, psychedelic, Brit-pop, blues, or glam, but he still likes to draw distinctions. "I think all of these bands fit together in some way, but we're not necessarily all the genres they say we are," he notes. "Yes, we are young, we sound different than what you hear on the radio, we all play really good music that's real. It's obvious this music is needed: Listen to what's on the radio right now."
Beyond its alliance with a new pop-genre of bands crusading to bring back traditional rock to the top of the charts, Vue offers something more through its live performances. "Our live show is a really big part of our band," brags Buffa. "I saw the Strokes playing live on MTV2, and they just stand there. They're practically insulting. We get into it a lot more than most bands, but that's how we play and who we are."
Through Vue's official Website (www.thevue.com), one can find links to archived live performances, and view some fiery concert footage from the group. At the Brownie's show in New York City, singer/guitarist Rex Shelverton can be seen jumping higher than Rafael Orlin's drum kit while lashing at his guitar. Buffa and bassist Jeremy Bringetto seem to strike their guitar strings with the weight of their whole bodies as they spasm with every lick. Not to be overlooked is the slinky figure of keyboardist Jessica Graves, who constantly bounds to Orlin's dynamic beats and provides the lush hum of organ melodies that underline the band's sound with a deep drone.
Find Your Home,a ten-track album that flashes by in just a little more than 30 minutes, tears through eardrums like some flaming meteor screeching out from the remains of the post-apocalyptic home world of Ziggy Stardust. The disc opens with the crunching guitars, sly organ, and moaning harmonica of "Hitchhiking," as Shelverton sings like a man possessed by the spirit of Jim Morrison's leather trousers. "Falling Through a Window" is a slinking, electrified blues number that seethes of trashy sexuality: "Oh, your mouth so warm/It don't taste so sweet," wails Shelverton. "Do You Think of Him Still?" rides waves of angular, roaring waves of guitars and grooves in ironic reflection of Shelverton's lyrics about obsessive yet irreverent sex. The entire album bounds along on the dynamic variation of lethargic-yet-nasty blues-rock numbers and hormonally charged, thrashing garage-rock songs.
The band is currently promoting Find Your Home with a three-week tour of the U.S., having just returned from two weeks in Europe. "Our first European tour couldn't have been better. Every show was sold out," crows Buffa. "We're not coming back to the U.S. for a while either, so people better come see us now, because we're doing all the European festivals, and things are very good over there. We might hang out a bit."