It’s been a while since I spoke with folks from Vandals In Sandals about writing an article for their upcoming album. I am not quite sure how much time has passed, but their CD popped up on my doorstep, so here it is, a review about their debut called Burning Flags. For those unfamiliar with Vandals In Sandals, their music comes close to something proto-grunge bands did during the mid-eighties. Think of the bands like Pixies, Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr, or even Superchunk, but modernized to fit these times. Their style comes as a bit of a surprise because it has been a while since I heard something like this. Even the packaging resembles a vinyl release with a black and white printed sleeve and vinyl-texture compact disc. Such a nice idea that will even appeal to those pickiest music lovers.
If you expected another Nirvana clone, then forget about it. Vandals In Sandals go way back to the eighties and explore that sweet garage-infused grunge sound that became a role model for Seattle grunge bands that formed a couple of years after. Besides proto-grunge, you’ll notice how alternative, indie rock, punk rock, garage rock, power pop, and other similar music genres inspired Vandals In Sandals in shaping their unique sound. I must say their debut sounds divine from scratch to finish, and I can’t even remember when I enjoyed a proto-grunge album this much. Of course, I mean that if we exclude the most important records by the renowned names in the game. Vandals In Sandals thoroughly planned everything while assembling these compositions, and I am especially surprised by how many songs from this album sound cheerful, uplifting, positive, and energetic. It’s so uncharacteristic for the proto-grunge band, and I love it. I don’t know how they decided to make this move, but it works like a charm.
Each composition comes with a set of raw, abrasive, crunchy riffs and chord progressions. The band solely relies on three to four-chord progressions or riffs, but they put a lot of effort while assembling these songs, so I haven’t noticed any similarities with some other bands or songs. I like how the sound engineer or producer thought about the low-end tones, so you’ll vividly hear all the basslines in the mix. The drumming is at least 50% responsible for the dynamics of Vandals In Sandals, and you’ll enjoy all the rhythmic sequences, accentuations, fills, and other percussive acrobatics. The high-pitched lead vocal harmonies are in perfect contrast to the heavy music, and perhaps this singing technic resembles the way Black Francis (Pixies) or Mac McCaughan (Superchunk) performed all these years. Vandals In Sandals put so much effort into this material, and the result is hearable throughout the entire material. They nailed this album to the max. You can purchase Burning Flags on CD and tape or stream it on all streaming platforms.