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5 October 2002
The Vines
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In an era filled with the promise of great new hopes for rock, 2002's title already belongs to a young quartet from Sydney, Australia called The Vines and their debut album, Highly Evolved. The album smacks of an isolated adolescence spent listening to classic albums through headphones at lethal volume, until the raw influences bled their way on to a four-track recorder, straight from their hearts and their badly battered amps. Produced by Rob Schnapf (Beck, Guided By Voices, Foo Fighters, Elliott Smith) at L.A.'s original sonic temple, Sunset Sound Factory (where Led Zep and the Stones made some serious history), Highly Evolved is a swaggering, tuneful shot of raw rock with a chaser of blissful psychedelica that a panting NME called "a perfect synthesis of the Beatles and Nirvana." Never shy about expressing their real feelings, NME more recently exclaimed, "We're not joking. This is a record you must own."

Mixed by Andy Wallace, the first single "Get Free" is The Vines at their finest - urgent vocal harmonies, fractured guitars, and an absolute tempest of melody in a teacup-sized tune. The day-job drudgery anthem "Factory" (which was immediately named NME's "Single of the Week" when it was released as a limited edition 7-inch), finds the previously undiscovered common ground between the Fab Four in '68 and The Specials in '79 before slamming on the distortion pedal. Hard! The title track, "Highly Evolved," (which also grabbed "Single of the Week" honors in the U.K.) lasts for exactly 94 seconds of steamrolling guitar tsunami but will stay ringing inside your head forever. And the infectious trippiness of "Autumn Shade," swirling ballad "Mary Jane," and spaced-out stoner epic "1969" draw comparisons to classic head-expanders like Big Star, the Beach Boys and My Bloody Valentine.

The Vines started growing very gradually seven years ago as a three-piece, when guitarist/vocalist Craig Nicholls, bass player/backing vocalist Patrick Matthews and original drummer David Olliffe met during high school while working at a Sydney McDonald's and named their band after an obscure '60s Australian band called the Vynes (which just happened to feature Nicholls' father on guitar and vocals). They gigged infrequently, instead focusing on songwriting and making four-track recordings in Nicholls' bedroom. By early 2001, still completely unknown in their own hometown, they had amassed an arsenal of over thirty songs. When their demo landed at XL Recordings (U.K. home to the Prodigy, White Stripes, Badly Drawn Boy and Avalanches), things started happening quickly. XL immediately put out the track "Factory" as a limited seven-inch E.P, and it quickly became NME's single of the week, remaining in their "Turn-Ons Top 10" for an incredible 6 weeks. After signing a worldwide deal with Capitol Records in the U.S. in December 2001, MTV2 rushed the young band into its "22 Artists 2 Watch in 2002" campaign despite the fact that they did not yet have a video. In January 2002, The Vines headed up a feature article in which 35 bands were chosen as NME's "2002: The New Batch". Original drummer David Olliffe went on hiatus around this time, and the band brought in Hamish Rosser on drums (another Australian, whose previous gig was playing with a Kinks cover band in Nevada) and Nicholls' best childhood friend Ryan Griffiths on second guitar. The lineup complete, the Vines played their first-ever headlining show in February 2002, a low-key appearance in a small pub in Sydney called the Vic on the Park. Word spread about the show and before the opening band had struck a chord, the venue was jam-packed in anticipation. Of the gig, NME wrote, "This band are the future of rock. In ten years time, 10,000 people will claim to have been at this gig." Of The Vines' breakneck rise to popularity, Nicholls slyly smiles and says, "there are just lots of possibilities…."

The Vines' Website

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