Shop our Big Takeover store for back issues, t-shirts & CDs
Follow The Big Takeover
For the last few years, I’ve been writing reviews that start with a band’s back story regaling how things fell apart during lockdown. How being unable to rehearse and tour led to the break-up of bands, the abandoning of plans, the loss of momentum or the launching alternative solo careers. So it is nice to find that it was due to lockdown and a series of Zoom calls that reunited many of the ex-members of Vegas DeMilo, and literally, put the old band back together…as the saying goes.
Zoom chats led to text messages. Text messages to e-mails. E-mails to music sharing and, backed up by the realization that everyone still enjoyed each other’s company, as the first vaccines were being rolled out, so was their first record in two decades. That record is Black Sheep Lodge.
And if the birthing of the album is a story in itself, so is the concept behind it. If one of the iconic albums of the ’90s, Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville is a track-by-track response to The Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street, then this new one from Vegas DeMilo is a response to her response! If Liz Phair writes of the unseen minor characters and supporting cast in the wings of the Stones’s drug-fuelled classic, Vegas DeMilo, in turn, explore the off-screen characters, relationships and possible events in hers. Black Sheep Lodge is to Exile in Guyville what Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is to Hamlet. Neat, huh?
But great concepts don’t guarantee great albums, except in this case, it does. Kicking off with a song that his own band would have been happy to have had in their back catalog, “Charlie Watts” opens things up in perfect style. From here, we wander various narratives and side stories, from the lulling and lovely “Heaven Can Wait” to the muscular melodics of “Brand New Low,” and from the chiming sonics and blunt honesty of “New York Girls” to the grind, groove and brassy bravado of “Suicide Queens.”
I love everything about the back story and the concept behind the record. I love the candid nature of the lyrics and the cool ,effortless flow of the music – music that majored in rock and roll and minored in English Literature. How cool is that?
I’ll tell you. Very. Very cool, indeed.
More in recordings