Wampire’s “Curiosity,” I have spent four long months waiting for this week. Let’s set the table.
Cue the Vincent Price narration:
Vincent Price: In the backlit bar, stand two men… young and precarious. Their shaggy hair serving as the root of the webs the spiders dwindled around them. Behind them, young men emerge from coffins to aid their live performance. SILENCE! SIGNAL FOR FOG, flip up the lights, turn up the amps, and prepare yourself for a ghoulish good time. Lose yourself in the interwoven complexities of the jamming tunes. Let the musical blood that pumps through each sound wash over you, a psychedelic and fuzzy baptism of macabre consciousness.
Man, if only VP was still alive to read that, or if I had access to the Franken-hole to bring him back to read that.
Wampire is comprised of Rocky and Eric, two Portland garage rockers, with thick as molasses bass tunes, gnarly and radical psychedelic strumming, catchy pop bridges, all the while being set in a foggy haunted graveyard.
Fortunately for me, Jake Portrait, bassist from UMO, jumped aboard the Wampire ship, commandeering the producer role and helping shape Rocky and Eric with his knowledge and experience, and general bad-assery. There were whispers in the music scene that he was helping produce a band’s freshman album, the band name being Wampire (which instantly hooked my horror curiosity) –
~You see what happened there? Their band name hooked my curiosity, the album title is… CURIOUSITY- wordplay~ Back to my horror peaked ears.
I listened to the track “The Hearse” and was instantly addicted to their sound. Initially it reminded me of the transitional sound of UK band The Horrors, as they went from their post-punk new wave sound to the more surreal psychedelic spacey tones they took on. I knew I needed more than this one song. But at the time, I was hearing very little about the release of an album, only the release of the 7”. Then I found out they would set out on tour with UMO.
It felt mystic and enchanting that I would get to see Wampire open up for UMO (a live act so damn close to my heart). Of course they only played 4 or 5 songs, as opening acts are limited to, but the superbly rocked the echoplex. Their sound encompassed the whole room, and made me feel like the venue around me changed…
Speakers replaced by tombstones, lighting rigs were hauntingly dark trees, the musk of the room and the breeze from outside gave it that cold lonesome feel of being surrounded by dead bodies buried 6ft under. It. Was. Awesome. (For journalistic purposes, it could have been the drugs and drinking that made the Echoplex feel like a graveyard, but I didn’t sense the graveyard when UMO was jamming).
That show was back in February. I have spent the last three months chewing on two tracks from Wampire. And at ever open chance I get to proselytize their music, I barrage the door down like the lumberjack in Step Brothers.
But here we are baby, I’m gonna pull an Aladdin, and ask that you do one thing. I need you to trust me, and step out on to my magic carpet ride.
♫ I’m gonna show you a whole new world,
(don’t you dare close your ears)
the blossoming flower that is psych rock, ♫
I got my rad ass translucent vinyl last Monday… I have listened to it straight-through 23X’s. That’s almost a full 24 hours of losing myself in this album, (which I do for you, my readers) to submerge all my feelings and thoughts into the musical breakdown of this album. For many, this will be a bloody red rare steak that will require a lot of chewing. But if psych/indie/punk/new wave all boiled in a witches brew and heated up in the Keebler Elf oven sounds inviting to you, then this album is going to melt in your mouth like candy.
You can stream it at pitchfork or you can snag the digital at amazon for $10. I hope you can cough up the cash for these rad tunes, but more importantly, I want you to give this music a listen, see how it sits on your palette. But we all have busy lives; maybe you don’t have time to listen to the whole album. That’s one of many reasons why I am here. So in this order, these are the songs I command you must here.
The Hearse is a marvelous opening track, as it sets a radiating tone with pulsating rhythm. Giants is a very gnarly track, as the house music scene says, it’s dirty, with it’s heavy beat and dark chords. Orchards has teetered as one of my favorites. It’s a very precise summer song, which is fitting for the California heat that is now upon us. And Magic Lights, this lick has haunted me. It’s very reminiscent of the psychedelic accepted in current mainstream, such as MGMT. Each of these songs combine a rationed and portioned amount of horror, synth, punk, psych, and pop necessary to define a band as unique and creative. But it’s in the album, holistically, that you feel developed, and capable of comprehending their art just as much as you do enjoy listening to their music.
I am not sure where I heard it, but the band name came from a trip Eric took to Germany, where people would say wampire when talking about vampires, because of the correlation of V to W in Germany. So if you’re like me, you will use that when talking about Wampire, as it should be said with a thick Germany accent.