22 Oct 2021

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The Vibes - Album Review: Saucery

07 Oct 2020 // A review by Steve Shyu
Formerly called 'Brendon Thomas and The Vibes', this rock trio from Auckland consists of Tim on drums, Michael on bass guitar, and Brendon on the six-string. Touted as "a traversal through the psychedelic musical minds of Brendon Thomas, Timothee Nolier and Michael Anderson", the group boldly bring back the best sounds of the 60’s on every release. The latest album features the renowned singles Real World, Funk Blaster and What If I Told You, plus six newly-recorded delights. Muzic.net.nz’s Steve S. hopped on the retro party train and got a preview listen of Saucery.

With almost every song taking on a different musical style, this album gets better with each listen.

There’s the reggae-inspired swing tune The One I Saw, set to a sweet short story of one who notices an attractive person of interest and is eager to meet her (or him!) again.

Then there’s the coy and suggestive Tip My Toe, complete with 10CC-esque chorus effects, plus steamy lyrics such as "Choke me baby, don’t be alarmed, as you ride my heart". There are even moments where the song is reduced to just quiet guitar notes, seeming to illustrate one tip-toeing to a secret late-night rendezvous.

Some very clear James Brown influences can be heard on Funk Blaster, from the bright brass sections, the soulful vocal overtones, to the “UH!!”s, and even the mention of a very particular 'sex machine'. Arguably, this is one of the best and most unabashed funk hits made in Aotearoa.

Speaking of 70’s soul musicians, any Stevie Wonder fan will no doubt pick up the nods placed prominently on Real World, particularly during the verses. With additions of stormy tempo changes in the choruses, as well as a flute solo at the bridge, colour is added for extra variety.

There’s the lounge-y and deeply dreamy Lullaby and Ain’t No Dream, with crooning vocals and almost-unplugged pairing of light guitars and shuffling snares. The latter in particular has some of the clearest nods to Jimi Hendrix on this record, from the soulful singing style to the signature strumming of the aforementioned guitar god. Opting to wrap up the album with a soothing waltz-like ballad leaves listeners with a relaxing yet bittersweet aftertaste. The pop sensibilities are perhaps strongest on this track, with melodic hooks clever enough to get present-day dominators of mainstream radio pulling out their pens and notepads.

A clear stand-out track, and my personal favourite, is hands-down, the distortion-heavy, dance-able, does-what-it-says-on-the-can Funk Blaster. As a hard-rock fan, this ticks all the boxes, and is guaranteed a fun listen for anyone inclined toward groove-laden rock and punchy rhythms. In fact, even the album opener (which leads into Funk Blaster), is beefy and undeniably hard rock.

Every track is warm and vibrant, perfectly suited to that backyard Saturday afternoon hangout session with friends and a case of cold ones. There’s songs to sing along to, and ones to just lie back with eyes closed and tap a toe to.

The Vibes are back, and have delivered the soulful, funk-rockin’ goods yet again. Just in time for the warm months ahead!

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About The Vibes

Bohemian trio The Vibes, comprised of frontman Brendon Thomas, drummer Timothee Nolier and bassist Michael Anderson teleported from the psychadelic 60’s to our TV screens, auditioning for the sophomore season of The X Factor NZ.

The Auckland-based outfit applied for the show after the announcement of a bands category, a first in the show’s international franchise. After a barnstorming take on Hendrix’s Foxy Lady, Brendon and his stagemates earned themselves a reputation as a live highlight among the show’s top 12.

Wearing their influences (Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Who) on their tassled sleeves, Brendon Thomas and The Vibes made their way to the show’s grand final, putting their signature spin on every song they covered, smashing a few guitars and guiding their debut EP The Eclect to #1 on the NZ iTunes charts.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Vibes


Year: 2020
Type: Album
Wrap You In The Sun
Year: 2017
Type: EP
The Eclect
Year: 2014
Type: EP

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