It’s not a simple task to take Madison, Wisconsin’s Vanishing Kids and slap a label on them to describe their music. This band, and it’s very talented members, draw from their extensive, personal, musical backgrounds and bring to the forefront a sound that’s really a sonic patchwork encompassing genres such as psych, shoegaze, heavy rock (ala the 70s) and alternative, all of it coming together nicely and interlocking in a sonic handshake that creates an amazing end product of ethereal dreaminess oozing with a vibe and groove so heavy it runs the risk of cracking cement foundations when played through Marshall stacks.
But let’s talk about that for a second. This is a different kind of heaviness. It’s a different kind of psychedelia. The sound of the Vanishing Kids is one that’s multi layered and deeply textured thanks in part to Jason Hartman’s guitar playing that sounds like he’s channeling Leigh Stephens and Randy Holden of Blue Cheer with Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple that conjures up this jagged, bottom-ended sound that perfectly complements Nikki Drohomyreky’s vocals and organ playing.
And that pairing is enhanced by the fuzzed-out bass playing of Jerry Sofran and the Floyd-esque drumming of Hart Allan Miller. Their sound meets in the middle and comes together to produce a dreamscape soundtrack that shouldn’t be real, that dances with the surreal, alternating between a quiet, even delicate sound and a wall of guitar-sludge mayhem that meshes perfectly.
At times, I can hear echoes of Deep Purple with the title track, “Heavy Dreamer,” maybe in the vein of “Child in Time,” and then it switches over to something reminiscent of what might’ve been a B-side of say, the Smashing Pumpkins’ Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness culminating with the final song on this record, “Magnetic Magenta Blue.”
It’s that state of mind, that alternative feel that the Pumpkins became famous for that I hear flowing through Heavy Dreamer which, when you think about it, is a hell of a musical guide to have. Standout tunes include the aforementioned “Heavy Dreamer,” “Mockingbird” (think Windhand meets Deep Purple) and “Magnetic Magenta Blue.” Don’t get me wrong, the entire album is magnificent, these three tunes stood out to me.
Vanishing Kids are doing something very special here. They’re creating music that’s heavy and unique that keeps connects you with their sound and overall vision. As I said before, don’t look for a genre here; you won’t find it. Vanishing Kids’ sound is a hybrid of different styles, and it fires on all cylinders throughout this record.
Remember those bands I mentioned earlier that VK’s music reminded me of? If you dig them, you’re gonna crave this band; you’ll want more. Heavy Dreamer has made my end of year top ten list. If heavy psych is your bag, Vanishing Kids’ Heavy Dreamer is the record for you. Buy it.