The Red Vines: Everyday Needles for Electromagnetic Lovers
Man, this is a snazzy-looking disc. Maybe you've seen something like it before, a CD printed all fancy-like to look like it's a vinyl record. That's got to be expensive--a bit of a gamble for a relatively wee local label such as Beechfields. In any case, it's fitting--the Red Vines have more to do with 1970s sunshiny folk rock and Brian Wilson-blessed pop than anything terribly new or indie. The arrangements are all perfectly wound, sorta twangy, sorta folksy packages of slowly addictive music that sounds fresh off vacation to Nashville--and isn't afraid to wear the T-shirt.
You have to love Ryan Finnerin's vocals; when this dude figures out just how much he can sound like Elvis Costello--well, maybe with a decongestant--Baltimore's women are in trouble. Up in some crowd's face, in his finest of countrified croons and wearing hopefully an old Wrangler button-down, he could be a grand novelty act.
If only it weren't so earnest and generally heartbroken. Yeah, he's chasing around his range like a supremely self-aware pro on "The Nameless," but he's also singing, "There's whiskey on the tongue of the one you love so much/ it's time to get away," in this kinda broken-up backhanded lament. Or on the fantastic "Melody of Falling"--with extra support from just-enough strings and organ, and this bubbling little recurring guitar line that feels like someone is running his fingers up your neck--where he sings, "You hit the ground and slowly fade/ and that's how memories are made," which isn't ambiguous. Neither is the spare guitar strum and naked "Everyone falls apart/ but yes we knew that from the start" of "10,000 Watts."
Then there are the coos, bouncing rhythm, and jaw harp of "Miss Strangelove," a plenty endearing track that's something you'd like to skip down your front steps to at least once. And the closing "The Unexplainable Ghost" bounces along just fine--though by the time the glockenspiel chimes in, the arrangements are starting to get over the top--another closet sad song, and a perfect last taste of vine. ()