Sometimes the most exciting music is the stuff you stumble across when you are looking for something else.
I was in Flying Out browsing the sale bins when a man pressed passed me and inquired how his album sales had gone. The always gracious Matthew Crawley who was manning the till that day made a positive reply and suddenly he was gone.
My curiosity piqued I asked as to the man and the album and consequently exited back onto the street clutching a vinyl copy of the aptly named Weird Days. I was really only familiar with the opening track Up All Night with its woozy guitar and vocals as I had heard it smeared over the airwaves courtesy of Bfm. Apart from that, I was listening blind.
I dropped the needle and immediately was transported to a wasted days and wasted night landscape that echoes pain & pleasure in equal measure. Aurally it is a soundtrack that is part Birthday Party, part Calexico, with a dash of Pavement and a good sprinkling of Morricone's Spaghetti Western drama topped off with David Lynch weirdness. In fact the second track on side one, Yeeeaahh, totally belongs in one of next seasons Twin Peaks episodes. Someone should probably write to Mr Lynch.
Anyhow eventually, I had to know more about Vincent HL and the album and so I did the 21st Century thing and asked Mr Google. I found out he had been other Auckland bands Whipping Cats, Thousand Island, Hang Loose and Teen Wolf with such local luminaries as James Danse and Chelsea Nikkel, all the while storing up songs for a solo release. After some time overseas, he came back to NZ, learnt some mad skills on Pro Tools and voila Weird Days was born.
The first four tracks Up All Night, Yeeeaahh, Snacks and the title track form a kind of drunken diary before the crash on the couch that is quieter acoustic Little Song.
Flip the record over and side two starts with Way Down Low, a stumble to the dairy in the blazing sun for a pie, thinking about the girl you fancied at last nights party kind of song. It has a particularly delicious guitar solo.
Get Off My Couch perks up the morning after until it descends into a reverb chamber at the 2:00 min mark never to return. The Unknown And The Infinite is a journey into the sunburnt psychedelic wilderness slashed with a wild solo and pretty acoustic guitar refrain while taking relentless tambourine steps.
Off The Cliffs is a descent into dangerous Doors territory with its stop-start performance and tremelo bar guitar. Then suddenly we are heading gently guided back to the safety of town with Going Easy's acoustic invitation to ..meet you at the graveyard. One of the many things I love about this album is the way it takes you on a journey and gives off such energy along the way. This means you start at track 1 side one and want to listen all the way to the last track on side 2 as a result.
Musically everything is fairly fluid with electric and acoustic guitars, bass and drums playing with a confident free abandon. There is even some wild kazoo action on Snacks if my ears don't deceive me. The vocals are as free as the instrumentation and while that might be a bit of a challenge to some listeners, I happily went with the swoops and dives around the notes of each songs melody.
Vincent H.L. has produced one of my albums of the year so far by presenting a collection of songs that manage to largely avoid musical cliches and more often than not bravely veer off in more than one direction at once. Weird Days is an invigorating listen that makes me feel alive each time I listen to it. And I have listened to it a lot. I can't wait to hear how it translates live when he brings it to The Others Way Festival later this month.
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Released: 29 Jun 2018