The dance party continues while the band expands its musical
Paul Allaer | Cincinnati | 09/01/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Louisville-based VHS or Beta has gone through an interesting musical evolution, from the mostly instrumental 2002 "Le Funk" album, to the excellent dance-oriented (with upfront lead vocals) 2004 "Night On Fire" album, to this, the eagerly awaited third album.
On "Bring On the Comets" (12 tracks, 44 min.), the band, now a trio, expands its musical pallet while staying true to the dance-oriented beat from the earlier albums. Opener "Euglama" is a 1 min. instrumental that would fit in nicely on "Le Funk", it fades in and then out, as if to say, this is what we were but now we're on to bigger and better things, then crashing into "Love In My Pocket", a terrific sing-along, as is "Can't Believe a Single Word" (the first single). It is immediately clear that guitars are more upfront than ever before, and drummer Mark Guldry has resorted back to 'real' drums (instead of the electronical drums used before). The album flows along nicely. "Burns It All Down" is reminicent of the sound on the "Night On Fire" album. The terrific first half of the album concludes with an urgent "Take It Or Leave it". The second half of the album starts off with another short instrumental, then dives into the title track, a exalerating look at the sky, just great. "Fall Down Lightly" brings a funky bass to the fore and reminds me of "You Got Me", the best track on "Night On Fire". Even at track 11, "Time Stands Still", you can feel the urgency of the band and the album. Closer "The Stars Where We Came From" is the longest track of the album, a pensive tune and a nice way to round out things. Incidentally, the band got help on a number of tracks from their Louisville brethren My Morning Jacket, including Jim James providing backing vocals and guitar.
In all, "Bring On the Comets" is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, and at 44 min. it clips by in no time and you find yourself playing it again. I've seen VHS or Beta in concert a number of times, but cannot wait to see and hear what the band now sounds like, with real drums. Highly recommended!"
"VHS or Beta"? YES.
Wes | World Citizen, Earth | 05/14/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You just have to love it when you come across an album that you play over and over and over and over again - this is one of them. I am stunned by the quality of the production, which does harken back to the 80's - and in a superb, electrifying fashion. I agree wholeheartedly with a comment made previously saying that if this came out back then, it would have dominated, been huge. To me, it comes off like a combination of Big Country + Real Life (if you remember those bands). Rocking, yet with layers of synths aplenty. I have seen them perform live and they were incredible - you should too, if you're lucky enough to be in town when they are. This album is excellent and one of the best of 2007. Play it in a car with a deluxe system to REALLY experience its power."
Leaning to The Rock in Dance Rock
A. Kramer | 09/29/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"VHS Or Beta are the unabashed mascots of dance rock. I can't think of a better term for what they do musically. Composed as a traditional 4-piece with synthetic enhancements (e.g. electronic drum pads and occasional synths), the band at times can be hard to distinguish from a fully electronic outfit. 'Bring on The Comets' is different from previous releases that focused on a specific dance genre, whether it was French Disco or 80s Brit New Wave, and is their foray into something that truly resembles Rock for dancing or rather "rock for the club". Sometimes the album feels Classic, sometimes Arena, sometimes Country and sometimes Indie Rock.
"Love in My Pocket" has a swaggering rock feel, like it might be an updated Cheap Trick song with its seemingly tongue-in-cheek lyrics about love. "Can't Believe A Single Word" has the quick-tongued intro and falsetto of something The Darkness would scribe. The track is truly anthemic, a blessing for those that pump their fists in the air and shake their [...] at the same time. It's not unexpected that VHS' combo of mainstream rock and glitter-ball club antics might get excessive - it can. Thankfully, the album has a tendency to switch things up from track to track keeping the sound varied. Indie Pop rears itself onto the album on "Fall Down Lightly" with its chorus reminiscent of a wistful Ivy song. The albums final track "The Stars Where We Came From" has lead singer Craig Pfunder bellowing over pedal steel and piano in a heartbroken piece that crescendos in tragic Country Rock style.
VHS Or Beta have forayed into the Rock area of Dance Rock on "Comets", but one thing that has stayed consistent is their penchant for thematic albums. Only the song "Burn It All Down" truly stands out as more club dance than bar rock. It sounds as it belongs on their previous album but its dance merit makes it worthy of inclusion on any release. There are a good set of stand-out tracks on "Comets" but overall the album feels like it was completed with filler tracks like "Take It Or Leave It" sounding like a bad Anime theme song, 2 short instrumental tracks and a later track "Time Stands Still" which overflows the hand clap pot dragging on for four minutes.
Fans of VHS Or Beta will appreciate the album's movement into new areas of dance rock. Other's should check it out if they like to toe the line between discotheque and rocking out, or just like to tap their toes."