In January, I wrote about Whittier, CA-based punk rock quartet Plague Vendor and “Jezebel,” the first single off Bloodsweat, the quartet’s sophomore effort, slated for a March 25, 2016 release through renowned punk rock label, Epitaph Records, best known as the label home of Bad Religion, Rancid, Offspring, Green Day, NOFX, Pennywise, Descendents, Alkaline Trio and countless others. (And if you were anything like me, Epitaph Records artists were a big part of your teenage years at some point.) But since it’s been a couple of months, some background to refresh your memory may be necessary: Comprised of Brandon Blaine (vocals), Luke Perine (drums), Michael Perez (bass) and Jay Rogers (guitar), Plague Vendor formed in 2009 and quickly emerged from a practice space to playing raucous, frenetic shows across Southern California. Eventually the number of shows they played stacked up and led to the material that comprised the band’s 2014 release, Free to Eat, an effort that’s been described as a dark, terse, thrashing collection.
The Whittier, CA-based quartet’s sophomore effort is reportedly comprised of material that has been written, revised, road-tested, revised and re-imagined before the members of the band went into the studio. Produced and engineered by Stuart Sikes, best known for his work with The Walkman, Cat Power and Modest Mouse, the album also had the band embracing extremely minimalist production techniques with each individual band member aiming to capture each song with as few takes as humanly possible with little to no overdubs. Typically, during the recording process there could be dozens upon dozens of takes and a recorded song could be comprised of layers upon layers of overdubs — with the end result being that the material could wind up being stripped of its energy and passion. However, the members of Plague Vendor went into the studio with the expressed intention of making their recorded sound hew as closely as humanly possible to their live sound, complete with its raw, frenzied, furious passion.
Thematically speaking, the material on the album recounts the past couple of years of the band members lives — the dedication, compromises and sacrifices they’ve made up to this point as artists and people and how that’s influenced them. Now, as I mentioned earlier, “Jezebel” consisted of tense and angular, thrashing guitar chords paired with a propulsive and forceful rhythm section and howled vocals. Sonically, the song channelled The Hives “Walk Idiot, Walk” and “Hate To Say I Told You So” but with a furious, primal stomp.
Bloodsweat‘s third and latest single “No Bounty” is a shuffling and swaggering, piss and vinegar fueled blues-leaning track that has the band pairing a propulsive and forceful rhythm section, howling braggadocio-filled verses and refrains and scorching guitar work in a way that will likely remind many listeners of The White Stripes and The Dead Weather — but with sneering, strutting “fuck you and the high horse you rode in” air.