Photo: Facebook @zachxburns

Just going to throw this out there, but I think that Dead Vinyl is hitting its stride. In the past couple of months, the four-piece dropped two singles off the album they are currently sitting on, and while both traffic in the heavy blues/’70s overdrive daemons that animate most hard rock bands, they’re a vast improvement on the Zeppelinesque riffage and Chris Robinson-esque-cawwing that the band has slung across area stages for the past five years. In truth, the first new track they put out, the giddily shredded “No Fun,” struck me as something off Houses of the Holy or Physical Graffiti, some deep cut unfairly excised to make way for the length of “The Rain Song.” But on repeated listens, I caught a hint of Queen dripping off the opening hot lixx from guitarists Tyler Vela and hired gun Nolan Robertson. Later, a chord change reminded me of Big Star, then some backing vocals sounded right at home on something more modern, like Natural Child or even local DV contemporaries Quaker City Night Hawks. Yeah, those influences are still either right out of the classic rock canon or drawn from the vein mined by other popular throwback rock bands, but goddamn if this shit doesn’t rock.

Dead Vinyl’s latest, the fuzz-skuzzed stomper “Black Smoke,” dropped last week, which they promoted with an accompanying video (shot by local video producer Jake Hill) and a show at MASS last Saturday. I was out of town, so I don’t know what the attendance was like, but on the merits of the two new tracks, plus this other Motown-influenced song I’ve heard them play, plus the rowdy, crowd-amping blasts that lurk in their back catalog, I’d say the band at least deserved to have a huge show. After all, as a unit, they’re tight af, their performances linked by the telepathy that comes with constant jamming made possible when a band all lives in one place. They all moved into a house together a couple of years ago, and the sturm and drang and elation and frustration of that experience seem to have been layered into these songs, as the band poured them into the molds before hammering them into what sounds like classic metal, say, for example, Black Sabbath circa ’72.

That might make you think their new stuff sounds like The Sword’s old stuff, which isn’t completely wrong but not particularly apt. Unlike that band, Dead Vinyl’s music is more organically retro – I’ve always felt like The Sword, by design, tried to reverse-engineer a Pentagram album. I don’t think most bands would actively attempt to sound like Poison, but every once in a while, I’d hear part of a Dead Vinyl song that made me think those dudes had accidentally borrowed a chunk of Open Up and Say Ahh! Those moments would usually slide back in the direction of a band like the Black Crowes. For the most part, DV’s last release, 2017’s Gold Mine EP, kept its nose out of the Sunset Strip’s mid-’80s gutter. 

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These new tunes seem to have left that musical ghetto altogether, and the band is all the better for it. In my estimation, “No Fun” is the kind of track that would increase Dead Vinyl’s fanbase exponentially if an industry gatekeeper were beneficent enough to stick it in an episode of Mayans M.C. or whatever. 

I’ve talked to Vela and singer Hayden Miller about what the band’s next moves are. From what they’ve told me, they’re currently in that limbo where booking a few road shows isn’t that difficult, but filling out dates for a whole tour has proven to be a challenge. As such, they’re waiting to release the album for when they can book a whole tour. Next weekend, at least, they’ll head down to Houston to open for Oakland, Califorina-based rocker Thaddeus Gonzalez. Here’s to hoping they nab a booking agent to onboard with them.