While the music scene knows Iceland for bands like SIGUR ROS and SÓLSTAFIR, the small Nordic island seems to have a few more musicians to share with the world. We first heard about THE VINTAGE CARAVAN when they were opening for OPETH back in early 2020. When their fifth studio album, “Monuments,” was announced via a new collaboration with Napalm Records, set for release on April 16th, 2021, we naturally had to give it a listen. Stay tuned for our interview with the band, coming soon.
Can we take a moment to pause and appreciate this album art? It’s such a colorful and enjoyable combination of beautiful and psychedelic, and makes perfect sense in conjunction with the band’s name and style. Okay, with that said, the album opens on a speedy note with “Whispers,” a rockin’ distorted guitar-driven track with raspy vocals that sets a nice pace for the rest of the music to come. One of the immediate highlights is the first single, “Crystallized,” which has a creeping intro with some stylish guitars sneaking in, before bouncing into a groovy rock song. Guitars feeding back open “Can’t Get You Off My Mind,” which is really upbeat and shows off the stylishness of how Óskar Logi Ágústsson sings. Also, this track has a truly fabulous and catchy chorus.
“Dark Times” opens with slow guitars before some slight rockin’ wankery (in a good way) takes over and amps up the speed, though a bit after the halfway mark, it slows down and gets a little groovier. “This One’s for You” immediately feels like a ballad as it’s far slower and led by just guitars and vocals. Risking boringness in its simplicity, Ágústsson actually keeps the song interesting until the slow bass and soft drums join in. There’s a simple appeal to the song, though some listeners might find it a bit dull. “Forgotten” feels like a nod to DEEP PURPLE because its first notes about 16 seconds into the song are the same notes that begin “Highway Star” from the legendary 1972 release, “Machine Head.” However, they extend the riff far, far beyond how long DP kept it going, building it into a rather explosive and original track that doesn’t sound like DEEP PURPLE at all as a whole. THE VINTAGE CARAVAN also don’t fear length, as this song and the final track are over 8 minutes in run-time.
“Hell” begins with a simple, groovy intro before shifting into a smooth, straightforward sound as the vocals take the forefront in this track. It’s an interesting contrast to the way the band uses the vocals, as in “Whispers,” the vocals are pushed back into the general sound, whereas here they are crisp and clear in the foreground. This one is an easy highlight for its funky feel and general stylishness. By “Torn in Two,” the album is getting near the end, but doesn’t ease up on the energy, as there is plenty of jamming soloing to go around. “Said_Done” is interesting alone for its use of the underscore in its name, as well as its simple, stopping and repeating riffs. Finally, the ultimate track is the other long one, “Clarity,” which wraps the album up neatly thanks to its progressive melodic feel and length. It is a slower, ballad-y piece, but once again, Ágústsson‘s beautiful vocals are one of the main alluring factors to the song. Thanks to its length, the song does have a long burn and build-up, making it a really strong way to close an already great album.
Ultimately, if you’re into hard/psychedelic/stoner rock, this is a definite do-not-miss album for 2021! “Monuments” offers a wide variety of fun riffs, groovy melodies, and rockin’ vocals to enhance your spring, executed stylishly and with skill. It’s hard to pick highlights off a really solid album, so give this one a spin or seven and enjoy!
- Can’t Get You Off My Mind
- Dark Times
- This One’s for You
- Sharp Teeth
- Torn in Two
- Said _ Done
- Óskar Logi Ágústsson – guitars, lead vocals
- Alexander Örn Númason – bass, backing vocals
- Stefán Ari Stefánsson – drums