Did you know that Great Britain is big? It really is! There’s a south AND a north! An east AND a west! Each corner of the country has its own culture, politics, socioeconomic climate, and of course, music. The point is that not all British music, as we Americans tend to forget, comes from London or Liverpool (not all of England, for that matter, is London or Liverpool). Some of modern times’ most timeless bands come from the North. Oasis, the Stone Roses, the Kaiser Chiefs, and even Soft Cell, all hail from Yorkshire and northeastern England. Not everyone from England is the Clash and Coldplay.
The music of Black Vendetta is part of the grand Northern tradition of big guitars, bold vocals, and stark and sarcastic lyrics on success, failure, and the occassional night out gone wrong. And probably the most impressive aspect of the “band” is that the whole project is the solo effort of 22-year-old Nathan Virica from Harrogate, UK. Recording every instrument himself (the singers are all guests), and writing every word himself, the songwriter seems to bring together not only various decades of rock history but also influences from every rock band that has ever made a stop in Yorkshire on their way to London. The northern influences are definitely at play in Virica’s music. Songs like “No Chance” and “Tennis Girl” have the full guitars and big but introspective riffs usually found in deep cuts from Oasis and Blur. But Virica also brings in American influences like the widescreen rock of Bruce Springsteen and the Killers, especially with the tracks “Breakaway,” “Death of An Angel,” and “Go Ahead and Make My Day.” These songs in particular showcase Virica’s particular talents (which is probably why two of them are available for download at the price of $1.29).
Virica’s an inspired songwriter, capable of conjuring up musical images with big sounds and punchy riffs that would not be out of place in a mid- to large-sized venue (let’s hold off on inviting him to Madison Square Garden for now, though). He dances between arena-rock, pub-rock, and Panda Bear-style bedroom rock with quiet, intimate moments. The obviously MIDI instrumments, combined with his instrumental chops, give the songs an unpretentious, honest charm. Each riff or basic song idea, though, is made uneven by the vocals. Guest singers Lauren Slater, Layla Amini, and Salli Alexander each bring their own style and identity to the songs, but they don’t always match Virica’s songwriting. Slater especially has a big, booming 80’s voice straight out of a Guns ‘n’ Roses or Siryn video. As Randy Jackson would say, it’s a bit pitchy, dawg.
Like the disparate influences and musical periods Virica tries to pull together, the inspired riffs and big vibes in Black Vendetta’s music try their best to pull the songs together. The uneven vocals, though, get in the way of some great, jam-worthy moments. The sum is not greater than its parts, and although the music doesn’t always seem to come together, those are some great parts that will burrow their way into your ear. It’s promising stuff, and, according to Virica’s bio, his recent move to London is a huge step in the right direction, which should bring with it a host of new influences, and hopefully singers(!).
Hear some Black Vendetta at:
-written by Anatole Ashraf