Listen to this while high: Voxhaul Broadcast's Timing Is Everything
Behind the buzz: These Orange County brats hit L.A.'s Silverlake rock scene a couple of years back, and the buzz was reaching apiary pitch as I departed for the calmer pastures of the Bay Area. Online spoor indicates the roar got louder, hailing Voxhaul Broadcast as one of the more notable new acts of the season. Prediction is a tricky business, as is this debut full-length from an act poised to bestride the narrow world of indie rock like a twitchy Colossus.
Today's weed: A small bowl of Romulan, an indica strain advertised as uncommonly powerful, with numerous online testimonials all adding up to "Are you sure you really wanna smoke this shit?"
Join the car crash set: Short-term love isn't exactly the least-worked meme in rock music, but its manner of expression in "Leaving on the 5th" commands respect for knife's-edge emotion and weary bravado. Likewise, the upbeat "Blackout" carries the listener on a jolly tour of that interior negative space familiar to four-martini drunks and nightclub bouncers. Such bracing perversity informs the languid "Steal the Diamonds," with the flashily brittle guitar adding a fine strung-out tension relieved by soaring meditative harmonies. The riffing on "Loose Change" pushes things into the same sonic ionosphere where vintage psychonauts like Jimmy Page and Robin Trower cavort. Fittingly enough, "Cheetah" flashes by like something extremely fast and vicious, and "Junkyard Dog" bares nicely yellowed teeth during frontman David Dennis' long confessional snarl. "If I Run" changes the tone, if not the mood, with the plaintive melody and childlike lyrics begging a lover for realization that self-control may have fled. The rest of the baker's-dozen tracks offer metaphors of candy-coated rotten apples, sleepless dreams, and crashed cars, all expressed with gorgeous and heart-shorn meticulousness. The finale, "Fact or Fiction," is fierce benediction intoned with the weary fervor of a touring evangelist, until the abrupt full stop at the end bringing a mindblown sigh, but no emotional closure. The album is done, but engagement with it continues and the listener is left to whimper Oliver Twist-like for more.
Psychoactive verdict: Score a physical copy at Voxhaul Broadcast's show tomorrow night at Slim's, screw in the earbuds, and crank up the volume until your breath is taken away.