Record review: Plague Vendor – Free To Eat (2014, LP)

plague vendor

California quartet Plague Vendor may come from the same town as Richard Nixon, but they’re anything but conservative. A combination of punk energy and twisted and downbeat lyrics, the band’s debut album is simultaneously arresting and exhausting. Opener and highlight ‘Black Sap Scriptures’ is a dark tale with vaguely mystical pretensions set to a mighty and crunching guitar riff, while second track ‘Breakdance On Broken Glass’ doesn’t let the frenetic pace let off. There is so much of the Dead Kennedys in what is going on here, that fans of the seminal punks will want to check these guys out, if they’re not too busy being angry at the world to do so. It’s always interesting when an album has a song with the same name as the band on it; it’s tempting to wonder whether the track contains the entire group’s musical manifesto. If that’s the case here, then Plague Vendor’s is to beat their instruments to within an inch of their lives while shouting out the letters of their name to a bass-line that’s nasty enough to burn your record collection and blame it on the cat. Elsewhere, ‘Finical Fatalist’ tells the touching tale of frantic singer Brandon Blaine driving his car off a cliff. On ‘Garden Lanterns’, Blaine proclaims he’s “God damn, done it again, found something better than a one-night stand,” revealing himself to be an angry punk with a soft centre. This is high-octane, sweaty and shouty punk that makes you want to work off some calories in an angry, pogo-ing fashion. Not for the faint-hearted. (Epitaph)

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