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The V Word

Certain band names stick out more than others. Some are clever parodies (Boris the Sprinkler); some are just totally offensive (the Crucifucks); and some are right-on, capturing a band's essence in only a word or two while remaining sufficiently catchy and memorable. Canada's VaGiants fall into the latter category, with a name that briskly hints at the band's sound while sticking out like a nail in a wall. Though such a name may conjure up images of the Houston 500 gangbang, it's more indicative of the band's hard, female-fronted rock sound.

J-Rod, lead vocalist and the self-proclaimed "Vag" in the VaGiants, describes the music as "cunt rock over cock rock." "We're just a kick-ass rock 'n' roll show, complementary to anything punk, rockabilly, and even heavy metal," J-Rod explains. "It's not exactly the same thing, but it's in the same vein. We all grew up listening to a lot of music. We either had radio shows or worked in record stores, so we have a whole mishmash of sound to us."

That mishmash pits them in the ring with contemporary bands like Seattle speed rockers the Supersuckers as well as the more traditional big guitar riffage of AC/DC. The difference with the VaGiants is J-Rod's powerfully soul-driven voice. While many vocalists of the rock 'n' roll persuasion employ a more abrasive, throaty vocal approach, J-Rod reaches deep into that long-forgotten place closer to the pelvic region -- the diaphragm. What? Which place were you thinking of?

Taking a cue from R&B girl bands of yesteryear like the Chantelles and the Shangri-Las and newer rock 'n' soul bands like the Bellrays, J-Rod's vocals offer a deeper, fuller sound than many of today's so-called "R&B divas."

"I'm even into jazzy stuff like Billie Holiday," she says. "I think it's a good mix with the kind of instrumentation that we have in our band."

And with the heavy stylings of guitarist ODC backing her up, J-Rod sounds not unlike a female Rob Tyner (of the MC5), kicking out the jams, motherfuckers.

Like any band worth its weight, the VaGiants' balls-to-the-wall stage performance is their selling point, J-Rod notes: "The live show is definitely something we hope will finalize a fan. If you dig what you hear on the website, our live show will really catch you, though there may be a little ringing in your ears when we're done."

The VaGiants are touring to promote their current CD, Short and Hard, as well as to preview the upcoming LP Waiting for the Night to Come. No, that wasn't a typo; the VaGiants next album will be released in the long-thought-to-be-deceased vinyl format, much to the delight of rock 'n' roll purists. The new album will be available in March, but in the meantime, the VaGiants will be roughin' it up down South. "Rest up for it," J-Rod warns. "I hope you all like bourbon." -- Jason Budjinski

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Jason Budjinski

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