The Vines Lead the New School of Real Rock and Roll

The recent outburst of ’60s rock revival bands has given long time fans of the music hope for its long-term return. The Hives, the Strokes and the White Stripes have all attempted to resurrect the genre, and in many respects have been successful. But, at the top of that list is the Vines.

From Sydney, Australia, the young quartet has won the hearts of music critics and the approval of know-it-all fans. Their debut album, “Highly Evolved,” is a perfect blending of ’60s psychedelia and early ’90s rock.

The journey began back in 1991 when guitarist/lead vocalist Craig Nicholls met bass player/ backing vocalist Patrick Matthews while working at a Sydney McDonalds. In between taking orders, the boys bonded over their common musical interest, which included their self-described “obsession” with Nirvana. They soon began to play together and were shortly joined by drummer David Olliffe, a friend of Matthews.

Playing only about a dozen gigs over a six-year period, the Vines were interviewed for a local radio station in April of 2000, which ultimately turned out to be their launching point into the business. After playing just one song in the studio, the band caught the attention of an exec at Ivy League Music. Immediately, the band was being convinced to demo all of their songs in hopes of getting signed.

After playing their first show in a popular Sydney venue, record labels heard the buzz. Three months later, in December 2000, the band signed with Engine Room Production Co. and began to record what would be their debut album. Nearly one year later, the Vines got signed to Capital Records.

During 2001, the band lost Olliffe due to his aversion to touring. They picked up new drummer Hamish Rosser and guitarist Ryan Griffiths.

“Evolved” was released in the UK on July 8 and to the rest of the world on July 15. It landed at #3 on the UK charts, making the Vines the first Australian band ever to land in the Top 5 with a debut album. A week later, it debuted at #11 on the Billboard charts and at #5 in Australia.

Their sound accurately imitates those who the Vines list as their influences. On the track “Factory,” the Beatle-esque qualities are screaming for attention. However, the band seamlessly adds such unique qualities to their music that it is definitely a style of their own. Background ska beats oddly fit into the song, which is one of the catchiest tunes on the album.

Releasing “Get Free” as the first single was definitely the right way to make a good first impression. The real and raw attitude exuded by Nicholls shows that he knows what sounds good. This is garage rock at its finest.

The Vines are also able to change the pace without missing a beat. The second track on the CD, “Autumn Shade,” is nothing less than haunting. With the lyrics, “Who am I to be this way/ Dreaming so insane,” you want to fall into that sleep and see what Nicholls is talking about.

The album’s title track is 93 seconds of precisely what the band set out to do. Nicholls once said in an interview that he wanted to make his songs as colorful as possible. “…When it’s angry, it’s really angry and when it’s mellow it’s really mellow. Everything is exaggerated.”

With an album as solid as “Evolved,” it is almost a guaranteed bet that their follow up will be just as refreshing as their first. And, maybe along the way, their comrades in the revival will take note on what it takes to be a real rock band.