Review Summary: Prog with heart.
Sometime before the demise of Texas progressive rock icons The Mars Volta, it became clear to many who followed the scene that the modern prog genre was getting stale. Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and company spawned countless imitators, far too many of whom were focused on coming across as “avant-garde” as technically possible, often sacrificing quality songwriting for excessive guitar wankery and general weirdness that added little to the music overall. It was as if one had taken Zeppelin at their druggiest, given them even more psychedelics, and taken away much of the natural charisma and catchiness that gave that band its superstar status.
Enter Los Angeles-area quintet VIS, and their debut EP No Waves
. From the first moments of opening track “Listen:”, it is clear that this is a band that is much more interested in bending the mold than following it. Punk-leaning guitars mesh with prog keyboards in a way that is both creative and beautiful, and yet is more focused on catchiness than many modern progressive rock acts. Yet perhaps the biggest surprise comes when frontman Tommy Miller begins to sing. His voice is more reminiscent of Young the Giant’s Sameer Gadhia than any progressive rock singer, and he is capable of a wide range of vocal expression, from the soulful croons that are the centerpiece of most of the tracks to the punk screams on “Memories of Some Distant Future”. Backed up by the superb compositions of guitarist Aarón Delgado and the excellent performances of each band member, Miller truly takes No Waves
to the next level.
One of the most impressive aspects of No Waves
is the sheer amount of sonic diversity from track to track, as the band pulls off a surprising amount of styles exceedingly well across the EP’s 20-minute runtime. Opener “Listen:” sounds indebted to First Temple-era Closure in Moscow, while “Static in the Air” is a soulful, low-key number that showcases Miller’s voice and “Memories of Some Distant Future” shows more of a post hardcore influence. Overall, No Waves
is a hugely impressive debut from a group that has seemingly come out of nowhere to become one of the most promising acts in their local scene. This band has the talent and natural songwriting prowess to potentially go great places as they gain a larger following in the LA area, and hopefully beyond.
Stream No Waves