Polyvinyl Records, 2014
Brand new music! The new Wampire album, Bazaar, hits the streets today, October 7th, 2014, on Chicago’s Polyvinyl Records, one of my favorite independent labels. They’re the home of Joan of Arc, Owen, of Montreal, American Football, Xiu Xiu, Aloha and many more.
Now the truth can be told. Bazaar hits the streets today. The album starts out with the Halloween-esque “The Amazing Heart Attack”, with its mischievous cackle at the beginning, then going, full-on to a frenetic poppy song; an up-tempo, fast-paced romp through the funhouse. Then, on the next tune, “Bad Attitude”, you head on over to the Side Show, where there are all sorts of oddities to ogle: the bearded lady, the sword swallower, the guy who lifts heavy weights via hooks attached to his nipples, fire-eaters, contortionists and the “human pincushion”.
Then, a bit of a switch. For “Fly on the Wall” you get to satisfy your voyeuristic fantasies, by being that proverbial fly on the wall, as the title implies. How many times have you heard someone say that cliché: “Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that conversation”? Or “Ooh – what a babe, I’d love to be a fly on the wall in her dressing room!” and so on.
The last review I wrote for Wampire was for their previous album, Curiosity (and even before that, I wrote up a short review for a CD single that came out, called “The Hearse”). When Curiosity came out, Wampire was just a duo, made up of two good friends, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps, who were just having a good time, playing gigs at house parties and small clubs around their hometown of Portland, OR. Since then, they’ve evolved into a five-piece playing all over the world with the likes of Foxygen, Smith Western and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, to name a few.
This new, updated version of Wampire has a different edge to it. Instead of two carefree young dudes, doing it their way and having fun, enjoying the quiet life, so to speak, they’re now a full-fledged band, with a bigger, wider sound. As much as I appreciated Curiosity, I did Bazaar even more. The full-band fills things out and their songs have a brighter, sensuality about them.
After the three aforementioned tunes, Bazaar takes things down a couple notches, the lights go down and it’s as if you’re in the “tunnel of love”, on an extended cruise. The next few songs are slowed down, but not all boring or soupy. You encounter the slick, mellow but catchy-as-hell “Wizard Staff”, the aptly named “Too Stoned” and the neo-psychedelic “Millennials”: acid rock for the new generation. My favorite cut on Bazaar, though, is “Sticking Out”, a groovy, hipster rockin’ melody.
Bazaar finishes things off with the penultimate “Life of Luxury”, a country-infused tune and then comes the finale, “People of Earth”, a song with an electronic feel to it. More than that, though, it has a space-y groove to it. The classic synthesizer sounds put one in the midst of a cosmic send-off, as if Wampire were actually, now that the album is over, going back aboard their spaceship and, with the sci-fi incidental music playing, getting ready to head to another galaxy, where there are others waiting to hear them play!
Seriously, though, Bazaar is truly amazing. It shows just how much a band can evolve and churn out a beautiful album such as this, by abandoning the duo thing and turning into a quintet, Tinder and Phipps have really shown that Wampire is in the midst of becoming and that Curiosity was more than just that. It was, rather, a first stab at an open-ended musical direction that’s been roaming free and is now soaring, with the release of their newest album, Bazaar. This is also (see previous review) an album that I highly recommend getting. If you would like some more information about Wampire and/or Polyvinyl and their wide and varied roster, check out both http://www.wampiremusic.com or go to http://www.polyvinylrecords.com – you can order either Wampire disc at the latter for sure, and possibly the former as well.