4 of 4 thought this review was well writtenTHE VINES-WINNING DAYS
Ah, The Vines. Considered Nirvana rip-offs by some, and just another “the" band by others. Some people even think they broke up. Well, I belong to the school that thinks The Vines are one of the coolest new bands around. With mind-blowing singing, songwriting, and guitar-playing by Craig Nichols and a solid rhythm section made up of Patrick Mathews on bass and Hamish Rosser on drums, The Vines seem to me not to be like Nirvana, or another “the" band, but one of the best bands of the past 10 years. Yes, I did just say that. With Craig Nichols as a front man, you really can’t go wrong. Oh, and to clear up the matter of whether they broke up or not-they have just taken a brief hiatus and are in the studio recording a third album. They took a break to write songs and because Craig has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. On with the review:
, the ubiquitous single from Winning Days, starts off with a guitar riff that immediately screams “I’m going to rock you hard." Craig comes in mumbling something unintelligible for a little while, then launches into a chorus consisting of “Ride with me" over a distorted guitar line. His crazy screams are all over the song in the background, and right when you are expecting another chorus, it cuts into a clean riff over Craig’s cries of “I’m not waiting alone." A quick, messy guitar solo and the song is right back to its old form. Though somewhat repetitive, this song is still first-rate.
starts right after Ride, and begins with a very Nirvana-style quiet guitar riff. Craig sings softly over the line, more in his signature, scratchy, mumbling voice. Then the song picks up pace and the drums come in. Following that the guitar becomes distorted and Craig sings higher and louder. Background vocals of “Bop bop doo wop bah" come in from nowhere and are almost laughable, but the song manages to remain cool when everything cuts out to a psychedelic, effect-laden guitar solo by good old Craig. As the solo fades out, just bass and drums remain playing a heavy riff. Singing starts up again, and the song ends with some repeated lyrics.
takes a few listens to get into, but once you do get into it, you realize its excellence. It starts with a creepy, Indian music-inspired guitar riff, along with Craig singing in a high, girly falsetto. It quickly builds up speed into Craig screaming and distorted guitar. It slows down after that to its original pace, then picks up speed into the distorted part again. From here it takes a new direction with Craig giving us some lyrics consisting of “Da da da" but sounds so good with the song and the overall feel of this album so far, that the nonsensical lyrics don’t matter. A short guitar solo takes the song back into a slow pace, then back to the fast “da da’s." A longer solo over the da’s takes the song to its end with some feedback.
Autumn Shade II
is a sequel to “Autumn Shade" from The Vines first album, Highly Evolved. An acoustic guitar enters to start the song and Craig and some background vocals come in singing amazingly beautiful harmonies until drums and bass come in for the chorus, which is also absolutely beautiful. Some of this is reminiscent of The Beatles, with George Harrison’s obsession of Indian music, but I would also assume drug use plays a factor in giving songs a psychedelic sound. After the chorus and some more quiet verses, there is a guitar solo with birds chirping in the background. Craig comes in with some soft “ooh’s" and “la’s" to end the song. This song is perfect, just much too short. This is my favorite song on the album, no doubt about it.
takes us back from acoustic ballad mode to hard rocking Vines mode. It starts with a heavy, psychedelic riff that repeats itself several times and leads into a minor chord progression with Craig singing inarticulately over it. Harmonies in the background, once again, remind me of 60’s psychedelic rock and the Beatles. The heavy riff takes over again, and leads us into a part of the song where every instrument is distorted, including vocals. Nothing that Craig says is even remotely understandable, of course, but it still sounds excellent. This moves into some song-ending feedback.
starts off with Craig softly singing over an acoustic guitar line. The chord progression is gorgeous, and leads into a chorus of Craig singing softly over some more Indian style guitar and “ohh la la’s." In come the drums, and the acoustic guitar becomes an clean electric. Another verse leads us into a guitar solo that hints at the vocal melody, but really doesn’t seem to fit much into the song, and somewhat takes away from it. The song also seems empty during the solo, due to lack of rhythm guitar. There is a fake ending, which takes us into a nice bridge, and right into the chorus. This song is very good, but would be better without the out of place guitar solo.
She’s Got Something To Say To Me
was written by Mathews and starts off with a guitar line reminiscent of 60’s guitar rock bands, and moves into a different type of Vines song, one we haven’t heard on this album yet, the slower paced rocker. Craig comes in singing the title of the song a few times, then moves into the chorus of incomprehensible lyrics. It moves into another guitar solo that at first makes the song seem empty because of the lack of rhythm guitar, but another guitar comes in halfway through and adds a bluesy feel. After the solo the song goes to the chorus and ands quickly.
starts off with a guitar part that reminds me of the intro to “Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, after which an acoustic guitar enters and Craig sings softly over it. This song is not a bad song by any means, just nothing special compared to some of the awesome songs on this album. It just kind of repeats itself over and over, with a bridge in the middle area, along with a dull guitar solo. Nothing special here, but don’t skip it. It’s worth a few listens.
is the next track, starting with a drum beat that leads into some guitar noodling. Then everything stops and Craig and background vocalists come in sounding like a gospel choir, something that made this song stick out for me. After that it heads back into the psychedelic sound of the previous ballads, and every once and awhile returns to the choir-like singing. This also is not a bad song, but is still nowhere near being the best song on the record. A distorted guitar solo without backing guitar once again add an empty feel to the middle of this sound, something that I really do not like. It ends on feedback, like many Vines songs do.
, another acoustic ballad, comes in sounding like a southern rock number with Craig singing soulfully and leads into a beautifully harmonized chorus with some clean electric guitar in the background. The guitar comes to the foreground for a quick solo, then pulls away for the soulful singing to enter again. A distorted guitar solo comes in, but this time has an acoustic backing it up, so the song does not feel empty. The guitar plays the vocal melody several times, with ooh’s and aah’s in the background. The solo stops and the chorus follows, after which some more guitar soloing takes place and takes the song to a fitting ending, holding out one chord.
, which stands for F*** The World, has pretty much one lyrical line. F** The World. So it isn’t special lyrically, but the way it starts out, with a distorted bass line and Craig screaming into a distorted mike, really makes this worth a listen. The screaming leads into a chorus of, you guessed it, F*** The World. After that there is a short guitar solo that leads back into the chorus. This song is a hard rocker, which there aren’t too many of on this album, but the ones that are on here are very good. The song ends with Craig yelling “Come on F*** The World," and some sort of crazy feedback.
So there you have it, a review of Winning Days by The Vines. This is an excellent album, well worth you 15 dollars or whatever you pay for CD’s in your area. I’ll close with some pros and cons and such.
1) Beautiful songs
2) Excellent songwriting courtesy of Craig Nichols
3) Reminiscent of classic, 60’s, psychedelic music
4) Craig Nichols singing and guitar playing
1) The bass and drums are nothing special
2) Feeling of emptiness on some songs
3) Acoustic ballads may bug some
Songs To Keep On Your iPod:
2) Autumn Shade II
3) Winning Days
4) Sun Child
Individual Song Ratings:
2) Animal Machine-4/5
3) TV Pro-4.5/5
4) Autumn Shade II-5/5
5) Evil Town-4/5
6) Winning Days-4/5
7) She’s Got Something To Say To Me-3.5/5
10) Sun Child-4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Classic Vines + 60’s psychedelia = One Good Album