These days, bands that specialize in folk-rock are about as unique as a pair of blue jeans. What started out as a refreshing hybrid revolution, has fallen into a slump where it’s hard to distinguish one plaid-clad artist from the last. But then a band like Vistavision comes along and reminds us of why they were so drawn to the genre in the first place.
Vistavision’s self-titled debut EP starts off traditionally enough, with minimal instrument accompaniment and echoey vocals that send shivers throughout your nervous system. “Cold Ropes” showcases J.M. McNab’s hollow voice exquisitely with a gradual incline, slowly working in commanding drums and more guitar prominence.
A welcome change of pace immediately follows the opener with “A Death in the Family,” a number that forces you to air-drum the shit out of any nearby surface. “Black Cat” follows in a similar manner, but the rest of the album takes after the first track, putting out songs that are a healthy combination of part foot-tappers, part soul-searching slow numbers. Clocking in at just under 26 minutes, the album’s diversity is impressive without sounding scattered.
Comparisons are inevitable when any band emerges onto the scene, with McNab’s vocals in particular causing me to think of Fleet Foxes. But Vistavision manages to brand their music with a more aggressive, jauntier vibe. Think Robin Pecknold, if his testosterone doubled and he saw some guy hitting on his girlfriend.
Like a thunderstorm, Vistavision finds a way to mix a powerful barrage with a calmness that drenches the listener in a satisfying musical experience, leaving them wanting more.