Vortis Released The Miasmic Years LP

Vortis - The Miasmic Years

Vortis has long been a mainstay of Chicago’s thriving underground, punk rock  lifers who have hit the clubs and released quality albums for over two decades. Wiry (and Wire-y,) perpetually pissed off and reactive,  Vortis  takes its name from the Vorticist movement of the early 20th-century, a group of artists and writers whose basic tenet was to “perpetuate violent structures of adolescent clarity” throughout life.  As drummer (and noted rock writer, now college professor) Jim DeRogatis has said, that’s a pretty damn good definition of rock ‘n’ roll coined a good 50 years before Chuck Berry and Elvis brought the idea to life.

On The Miasmic Years, Vortis continues its assault against complacency and institutional injustice, this time with the addition of looping technology that adds ethereal notes to the usual barrage of distorted guitar, throbbing bass, and clobbering drums. With 17 furious tracks that clock in at under 30 minutes, The Miasmic Years underscores both the band’s prescience (“Quarantine,” inspired by the true-life story of a  luxury line stricken by an onboard virus, predates the pandemic) and its ability to reshape the past into cogent commentary on today’s headlines (their “Covid Blues” is a reinterpretation of Essie Jenkins’ “1919 Influenza Blues,” the epidemic that  decimated a generation during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency.) 

Recorded during the pandemic on a DIY budget and self-released, The Miasmic Years  takes aim at a working class blind to its own plight on “Everything’s Going My Way” (“got no future, got no say/ what the fuck is an IRA,”) translates generational angst into a swing blues ala’ Black Flag (“Seeing Red,”) and  delineates American divisiveness (“Accretion,”) all while paying homage to predecessors like Black Flag, Dead Boys, Big Black, Bad Religion, and Wire.  Yet Vortis never sounds retro or derivative, thanks to the unique talents of guitarist/vocalist  Tonee Vortis and bassist/vocalist  Louise Vortis. What you have here is a concept record tracing events of fanatical populism wrought all too real by the rise of Trumpism and a pandemic that irrecovably changed the world.  Vortis works with wit, sarcasm and nihilism the way Michaelangelo worked with clay and marble, transforming the mundane into Art.

As the band says on this record, “This Ain’t Gonna End Well.” But we sure hope it can…

Vortis is a band with a direct premise and take on music: harnessing the point of maximum energy. The songs are tight and to the quick, taking apt lessons from classic Ramones’ punk melodies, Wire’s attention to precision and detail, and incorporating apt political lyricism. Songs rarely clock in over the two-minute mark, and the band’s live performances are tight and ferocious assaults with no pauses―usually 17 songs that culminate in fewer than 30 minutes. Catching what the band calls “the express train” live and onstage is a must, but it is just as potent on the group’s latest release, “The Miasmic Years.”.

Formed in 2000, Vortis released two albums via Chicago-based Thick Records fronted by F.T. (a.k.a. “the Fellow Traveler” Michael Weinstein, a 60-year old professor of political philosophy at Purdue University). The Professor eventually left, and sadly passed, but the band played on. Vortis kicked into higher gear with subsequent lineup changes and the band self-released four more albums.

In 2018, Vortis hooked up with Cavetone records to release This Machine Kills Fascists.” By that time, the band had evolved musically and lyrically with an even sharper, more sardonic eye on politics as it reacted to the rise of  nascent fascism during  the Trump era. Vortis was all set to promote that album, but then the world shut down… 
The pandemic has receded to the point where Vortis is back, and The Miasmic Years represents the first salvo in their ongoing war against complacency, social injustice, and political corruption.  Watch your back.

Vortis’ The Miasmic Years isavailable now on all major streaming platforms. Digital and vinyl  can be purchased at vortis.bandcamp.com.  Downloads, artwork, and photos available to writers on request.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.