Doug Zambon and the boys from The Vansaders have been tearing up the scene and generating much interest with their repertoire of punk-tinged music for a while now. No Matter What is their fourth studio effort since releasing Stuck In New York City back in 2014. When it comes to describing their sound and style, the band says it best with their short bio:
“The Vansaders seem poised to launch closer to the top of Asbury Park’s music scene, touting a banner mix of punk, rock, and folk that both reflects well upon and contrasts with what’s going in the state of music today. The band’s unassuming brand of drive is refreshing in an industry that can sometimes take itself too seriously. Everything about this group represents New Jersey’s rekindled flame, and their sound feels like a more accessible bridge to some more esoteric genres. If you need an entrance point to what’s going on in the US music scene, The Vansaders are a worthy place to start.”
I would have to agree pretty much word for word with that summation. The Vansaders impressed me considerably with their 2015 release of Jumping At Shadows, mixing influential punk rock with classic rock remnants and an original flair that seldom comes to fruition these days. From the well-crafted tunes to the seamless vocal attacks and guitar sonics, the band truly shines on its way to the top.
Doug Zambon (vocalist and songwriter) recently sent me the new record, and I wanted to take a few moments to go over the sounds that continue to be The Vansaders.
“Roll The Dice” starts things off in pure rock and roll fashion. If you like your rock fast and dangerous, “Roll The Dice” is gonna be your cup of tea. Guitars chug over the top of thunderous drums and rumbling bass guitar as Zambon delivers powerful vocals in the vein of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. The band is a mix of dominant players. Featuring Doug Zambon – vocals/guitar, Deaglan Howlett – guitar/vocals, Kyle Zupe – bass/vocals, Marie Kim – keys/vocals and Jay Maranzino – drums, the band is a tight-knit community of purebred rockers. Zambon and Howlett are the perfect combinations of rhythm and lead, playing off each other and driving the bass and drums across the finish line of this catchy tune. Subject matter-wise, they aren’t selling anything new, but they manage to do it in a very original way. Howlett’s middle-eight lead break is clean and concise, tearing pentatonic brilliance right back into the very next chorus. A chorus that hits in all the right places. Radio will love this tune.
“Sunrise” hits next. Once again The Vansaders demonstrate their prowess at writing poppy rock ditties in the vein of Foxboro Hot Tubs or Blink-182. “Sunrise” also shows more playing expertise as the boys all kick into this song. Guitars are heavy on this track, and I love it. Utilizing harmonics, big bar chords, and intricate riffs, Zambon and Howlett command the piece as Maranzino and Zupe nail this sucker to the proverbial floor. Middle-eight guitars are seamless, quick and well thought out before the band launches back into its ultra-catchy chorus. Most of the band sings backing vocals, and they present a robust and unified approach. Kudos to Marie Kim for keyboard work as well.
“Hurtlin” is next and it continues in fine fashion as the band bounces through some outstanding poppy punk music. This is the band’s only cover, and it was originally done by American Steel. Guitars are melodic and drums and bass pound the pavement to get them into this musical piece. Zambon has a seasoned and toned vocal attack throughout this disc, and he’s a natural born crooner. His seamless pitch commands the composition and makes this a true work of rock and roll art. Once again choruses are memorable for days, and the guitars and keys provide sub hooks throughout the whole tune. This reminds me of something in the vein of Pinhead Gunpowder, a fresh East Bay punk band fronted by Billie Joe Armstrong.
“Handshakes & Pity” is up next and is another great tune with plenty of musical juxtaposition. Telling the age-old tale of having to get out of this place “before I get older,” “Handshakes & Pity” wastes no time in getting to the point. Instrumentation is sparse and rhythmic as hell. Bass and drums smack signature time shots as guitars sing sweet melodic lines over the top of the song. Keyboards and backing vocals are perfectly smothered onto the song as Zambon and Howlett weave complex guitar harmonies and lead riffs throughout the song. Verse work, bridges, and choruses are all top-notch and work like a well-oiled machine. This should be another radio favorite for alternative and beyond.
“So Far Away” rumbles into the player next. The Vansaders mix complex rhythm and riff work into this fast-paced rocker. Guitar riffs combine with warm backing vocals and sharply contrasted lead vocal work from Zambon. If you’re looking for the anthemic punk rock in the vein of Good Charlotte or Bowling For Soup, “So Far Away” is for you. Once again, the band demonstrates high skill when it comes to compositional brilliance. There’s not a note that shouldn’t be there, and they all tie into each other with savvy and style.
The Vansaders continue to prove their worth in a scene that has a lot of mundane Americana drivel slopped all over it. While there continues to be a burgeoning punk scene in the area, it’s safe to say that The Vansaders are at the top of the heap, and this new record, No Matter What, is one of the finest new releases coming down the pike this year. Personally, I would have loved to have seen a full 12-song release, but I understand why things are done this way now.
The record will be released on August 11 and the release show will be announced on the band’s Facebook page soon. For more information on release date, shows and more on The Vansaders, head over to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/thevansaders.