Brooklyn trio Vaz take a really good idea and run with it. Rather than make pop music as extreme as possible, they take the extremes of bands like Hella and Lightning Bolt and filter their balls-out noise rock into something more palatable and accessible. Formerly a duo, Vaz were something like a post-punk White Stripes, rocking out in a bass-free style. But with the recent addition of guitarist Adam Mark, they’ve expanded into a super-low tuned double guitar attack, which finds them even louder and more explosive on their latest set, The Lie That Matches the Furniture.
At first, on the nigh doom-metal opener, “The Past is Past,” Mark, guitarist/vocalist Paul Erickson and drummer Jeff Mooridian almost sound like a hyperactive Queens of the Stone Age, not a bad thing by any means. And it doesn’t hurt that Erickson sounds more than a little like Josh Homme. But this is merely one aspect of the group’s immense and deafening canon, one that swells into more intense heights and chaotic explosions of noise and melody. “Tri-Panic Express” is a step closer to Lightning Bolt, with Mooridian pounding almost uncontrollably on his trap set.
Then, of course, comes the math skronk of “The Blue Hour,” harkening back to the Amphetamine Reptile days of Erickson and Mooridian’s former band, Hammerhead. “Lapp Garou,” on the other hand, starts out slow and ghostly, but transforms in time to a noisy monster that is both steadily rocking and, um, ghostly. You see, Vaz may be noise rock, in essence, but they’re a lot spookier than your typical noise rock band. If Sonic Youth had more songs like “Death Valley `69” and “Halloween,” then they might sound something like this.
While around five of the tracks are brief instrumentals and the total running time is just over half an hour, that’s actually a blessing coming from a band this brutal. An hour of this menacing ruckus, and you’d come down with tinnitus for sure. In this form, however, they stop just short, rocking hard enough to make your ears ring, but allowing them enough time to recover in time for you to press play and let the pummeling commence once again.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.