I’ve had “Shine On” in my car for the good part of September. It listens real good, but I’ve come to realize that it may be behind my recent uptick in aggressive driving, late nights, and falling asleep in my mascara. This debut album by Them Vibes seems to encourage that sort of mischief, because, c’mon, it’s fun (or at least convenient.) The band’s single “Lorelei” (an upbeat steering wheel-slapper about love gone terribly wrong) has been featured on the Deli before, but now that the duo has just released their full-length on iTunes, mention must be made.
“Shine On” is the end product of Nashville transplants Larry Florman and Alex Haddad recording for 6 months. And goddamn, they should be proud, because they nailed it. The album delivers ass-kicking rock and foot-stomping roots at a perfect ratio. “Shine On” has a very well thought-out flow to it, building up and mellowing out at just the right times. Guns blaze and guitars shred with the albums opener “Cryin’ Shame,” and the following track “Woo Who” pays swampy, Southern-rock homage to the Black Crowes. Things lighten up with the next song, “Need Somebody,” which is a cheerful sing-a-long (think the Avett Brothers covering “You Got a Friend in Me.”)
The intuition in the track listing is no fluke. Haddad and Florman are both industry veterans who migrated from New York for Tennessee, and spent a few years in the trenches of big country music. This album is the pair’s return to a more personal, gratifying approach to their craft. The duo’s influences ring loud and clear in a few tracks (“Take it as it Comes” is a straight shot of Robert Plant), but combined with their charisma and canniness, it feels appropriate. Them Vibes sound as though they have already been around for a very long time.
Hearing the title track “Shine On” is the essence of what makes the band great. There is a Rolling Stone’s cathartic sensibility to it, but hearing the song flourish with organ, slide guitar, and what sounds like a gospel choir’s worth of female vocals, it caps the album off as a cohesive experience. Like I mentioned before, it listens real good.
If Them Vibes keeps making albums at this level of excellence, I'll have a soundtrack for a drive across the country. Hopefully they will also make enough money to pay for all of my speeding tickets.
– Terra James-Jura