VAGINASORE JR.: This Here Peninsula: LP

This is the best record I have heard so far in 2009. Most bands are not able to make two good records in a row. With their latest recording, Vaginasore Jr. (VSJR) did just that. VSJR is a continuation of a lot of good indie rock and punk from the south, like Panthro UK United 13, Against Me!, and Superchunk. The songs take the things you’ve been frustrated with lately and set them into killer melodies that the listener can scream at an unsuspecting passerby. Some bands use this frustration as a formula, others spin it into gold. It’s always a good feeling to know that someone can still do it the way it’s supposed to be done. Best of all, the songs have incredible, melodic verses that take you deeper into the band. The song that stands out to me is track five, “The Pace and Stupidity of Survival.” The confidence and attitude are right on. It’s a three-minute song but it extends into your life for another three hours as it replays in your head and sing along, “All these self righteous motherfuckers are taking over the world / So heavenly minded, so full of their own self-worth / So judgmental in their bastard ideals / They’re no good here on earth.” This is the second time that Richie Lawler (singer) has gotten into my head. I spent the latter part of 2007 yelling a line from the last album (Strikes and Gutters) at people. And it takes me back to a time when the same thing happened with “Slack Motherfucker” by Superchunk in the ‘90s. Another standout song is “Nice Blinker Asshole.” The lyrics from this song come from the bumper stickers seen on a truck rolling by then stretches them out and pokes holes in them. “So opinionated at 60 miles an hour; sometimes you ask yourself ‘What the fuck would Jesus do?’ / ‘Heritage not Hate,’ that’s one hell of a stance / Dropped at 12 years old / home-schooled by the Klan.” There are pop gems on this record too, like “Drunk Therapist,” and “Livin Life,” a cover of a Daniel Johnston song. This is an unlikely cover song for a band that runs in the punk rock circles of Florida, but makes total sense when you hear it. One song, “The Disembodied Reflections of Lester Burnham” takes a speech from the movie American Beauty and sets it up in a song. The speech comes from the final minute of the movie where Kevin Spacey’s character gets shot and his life flashes before his eyes. The band captures it in a long-verse melody that does it justice. Inspiration is what good songs are made of and this song is inspired… period. These songs work on me the same way that the film American Beauty does. It takes a dull, familiar scene and turns it into brilliance. In the movie, they show a garage with a weight bench… or a plastic bag whipping in the wind (or Thora Birch’s massive rack) and turn your attention on them to give you a new way to see them. The supporting cast of the band brings these songs into three dimensions. The drums propel the songs and never let them slack. The lead guitar scribbles at will in a way that only Dave Decker (Watson) can. And the deep bass runs freely (Russ Van Cleave, The Tim Version). It’s like sacrilege, but I have to say it… I like VSJR better than DSJR. –Dave Rohm

 –guest (ADD)