Get Familiar: VietNam

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

If you're in the mood to hear some Rhythm and Blues that penetrates your body and never let's go, you've got a quandary by living in or around New York City--a city that no longer has K Rock and the Classic Rock stations are mediocre at best. Rather than hear vintage Rock from the '70's, and only the hits I might add, it seems that your best bet is to take matters into your own hands and plug in some CDS: Led Zeppelin followed by The Who, Pink Floyd, the Rolling Stones, a lil Janis Joplin, and a whole lotta Jimi Hendrix for a great finish.

But where's the Blues? The music genre that set the foundation for Rock N Roll which rose in popularity and cultivated the music that you hear on Classic Radio stations. More importantly, what band today is keeping up the legacy of 'ol Rhythm and Blues? That brings me to introducing this week's Get Familiar, VietNam, a Rock, Blues, and Soul band hailing from Brooklyn, NY. With Joshua "Exploading Motorcycle" Grubb playing blazing lead guitar and singing tender country-soul hymns, the initial sounds of VietNam appear to be unapologetic rock n roll. Rounding up the band are Michael "Jesus Beard" Gerner on Guitar, Ivan "DJ Dolphin" Berko on Bass, and Michael "Flaming Locks" Foss on Water Harmonica and Drums.

Their sound immediately transports me to a motorcycle bar that plays nothing but Rock N Roll, the only beer served is Yuengling, the Motorcycle posse either look like Jesus or your neighborhood hobo (they certainly smell like it), and the hookers are old enough to be your mom. That's what Rhythm and Blues reminds me of and should be...raw, grimy, and unapologetic about what it represents. For example, the first song that grabbed my attention was "Priest, Poet, and The Pig". This song opens up with a psychedelic rhythm reminiscent of Pink Floyd until the guitar rhythms come in and it appears as the cavalry of horses are running some place and never stopping for a break.

"Our futures so high,
But aren't we all just doing the same.
You've got reflections in your eyes,
Of things that you'll never blame"
--VietNam, The Priest, Poet, & the Pig

One of my other favorite tracks is "Mr. Goldfinger", a tender Rock N Roll track with country piano playing in the background followed later in the track by saxophone solo adding a nice jazz element to the flood of distorted guitars. The rebellious lyrics reminiscent of early '70's rock of the Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan.

"Money and class are just a pain in the ass for me"
--VietNam, Mr. Goldfinger

Until contemporary Rock stations rediscover their roots or scientists at MIT invent a time machine, VietNam are the closest band carrying on the movement of raw, rebellious, and apologetic Rock N Roll.

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