Back with a fresh new view on the ever-changing universe of modern music, The Vansaders roll into our tourist-packed Shoreworld with a brand new EP that is quick on the draw and easy on the ears. The band tends flourishing, homegrown pop rock from the gardens of The Offspring, Pennywise and Sum 41 in their current quest to impress. Comprised of six bombastic compositions, Jumping At Shadows ushers in the next generation of punk-laced popular sound that pays strict homage to the past while focusing on the needs of today’s ardent fan.
The Asbury Park quintet is comprised of Doug Zambon – vocals/guitar, Matt Cincotta – guitar/vocals, Dave Schulman – bass/vocals, Marie Kim – keys/vocals, and Jimmy Lovaglio – drums. Their Facebook page describes their passion for “George Jones, Johnny Cash, and a whole lot of bands w/loud guitars & big drums.” That descriptive comes alive on this disc, leaving several positive impressions on both myself and the soon-to-be receptive music populace.
Diving right into the mix, “Backseat Of Her Car” takes the anthemic lead in The Vansaders’ visionary journey of raw, lovelorn rock and roll. Harkening back to days of the one special girl that stays with us forever, vocalist Doug Zambon kicks things off with keen storytelling panache. Reminding me of the era when Bruce told actual stories that flourished with imagery of innocence, “Backseat Of Her Car” chugs from lyrical verse to mountain-high chorus before modulating up and shifting into that next almost extinct plateau of solid gold. Guitars are uniformed power and lift over solid bass and drum work. This song is the best on the disc and holds tons of promise. Of course, opinions may vary (mine rules).
“Generator” features Zambon’s extremely melodic vocals. His reach is effortless, fitting like a glove for this band. When the group kicks in at 0:52 it’s a fuel-injected rally cry aimed at the very throat. Bass and drums hum at overdrive BPMs as the guitar work of Matt Cincotta cuts rusty swaths of pentatonic pandemonium down the middle of the piece. Solid illustration leads things off with lyrical lines such as, “Like a rock, like a planet, like a fucking atom bomb, I remain unperturbed by the joys and the madness that I encounter everywhere I turn.” Featuring all the dark and stormy cadence of Dexter Holland and his boys, “Generator” provides plenty of rock and roll good time power.
“Christine” hails from that mid-’90s Green Day machine. Chopping up bar chords like an oily chainsaw, Zambon and Cincotta chunk the day away as Schulman and Lovaglio punch the compositional undercarriage with tons of rumble. Another song about a girl, The Vansaders are unapologetic for their romantic rock roots. Steeped in the small town core of their heroes, The Vansaders operate at the awkward confessional booth of love. “I light a cigarette while I watch you slinging booze. Undress you with my eyes, though I won’t make a move.” Chime-laden guitar chords ring out, reverberating over the top of chanting background vocals, keys (courtesy of Marie Kim) and pandemic rhythm sections. Jimmy Lovaglio’s drum work is vicious and frenetically precise, driving this sure-fire hit over the top of the pops.
The Vansaders take it down a notch on “So Long Ago.” Zambon’s concentrated effort on this acoustic, finger-picked piece comes through on several levels. A perfectionist when it comes to his music, Doug went as far as to send me a second version of this song complete with lyrical tune-up and changes he deemed necessary to be understood. Meticulous as that might seem to be, it was also a smart move. The intimate feel and tone of “So Long Ago” takes it into hit record status and places it in an extremely isolated class. The acoustic picking rolls with back porch Tennessee smoke, skimming along like a leaf in the stream as it flows throughout its story of regret, redemption and hope for the future. Honest, humble and displaying all the romantic spirit of iconic writers such as James Taylor, Bob Dylan and yes, Mike Ness, this is a song that could garner bigger interest in the band.
“See You Around Sometime” fires off in the golden age of the band Live. Summoning great big electric guitar riffs, chords and leads, this Champagne Super Nova explodes in kaleidoscope shards of Technicolor glory. Minor chord half-steps lock thundering drums and bass inside ethereal layers of keyboard magic to set the stage for this intelligent, emotion-drenched rocker. Lead guitars are quick and to the point, four bar expressions of grandeur as Zambon soars into the grand finale.
“Ripped It Apart” closes out this addictive set in washes of a music box, spaced out guitar echo and spatial keyboard magic before the band blows into the fray. I could have done with more setup as I was just getting into the theme before the explosion, but it’s a small price to pay. This is a band that has miles to go as far as promise, and I’m quite content to listen to them jump into the mix at their rebellious discretion. This is a song about the triumphs of youth and the boisterous time frame of glory. Memories rise and fall as they “Jump at the Shadows” of their prime time. Passionate interaction rules the day as Zambon says, “I’ll be thinking of the good times that we had, laughin’ at‘em till I’m dead, on the beach, in the alley in the backseat of her car. We made it far, we made it far, till I ripped it apart.” The band rises as one on this disc closer, joining vocals with music in an intense beeline of “we were here” passion.
The Vansaders are a very colorful and studied band with a grand opportunity to change their homegrown face of music. Pristine vocals, smart compositional decisions and some of the best musicians around makes it extremely hard for them to go wrong if they stay true to what they’re doing. The traditional combination of 1990s alt rock and a current day presentation of action-packed antics put The Vansaders deep inside the fast-track curve of rock and roll mainstream success.
The Vansaders will take The Stone Pony stage on Aug. 22, right before Social Distortion blow the gates off the Summer Stage. If you’re a fan of the band, this is the show you just can’t miss. The Vansaders will be offering Jumping At Shadows to all of their friends and fans at the show as well.
For more information on The Vansaders, or to buy tickets for the Aug. 22 show, head over to the band’s Facebook page, facebook.com/thevansaders, as well as their official site at thevansaders.com. You can also purchase tickets at The Stone Pony box office, and online at stoneponyonline.com.