The album's entitled bzzzz., and the Sweet Bleeders just had a release party last weekend for this luxuriant, melodic collection of lush pop songs and ballads that remind me occasionally of XTC, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel, and, occasionally, Beatles' songs. It's well known in musician's circles that Vining is one of the most talented songwriters in the 'Nix when it comes to classic American and British pop music.
Multi-instrumentalist Mark Erickson (who writes the songs in Colorstore, with Vining backing him), along with bassist David Marquez, drummers Steve Dueck, Casey McKee (the well known photographer, who also shot the album art) and Bobby Lundberg round out the ornate visions of Vining, who plays piano, organ, Rhodes, Moog, marimba, and acoustic and electric guitar, while crooning over top of the cacophony of melodies.
It's occasionally calliope-esque, with the intertwined melodic lines lunging and feinting alternately. Vining's lyrical narratives are widely interpretive, which is a welcome change from the down-to-the-color-of-the-carpet-when-she-left-me songwriters (many of whom, like Her Space Holiday, Bright Eyes, and Cursive, are favorites of mine).
Vining even gets epic on the ten-and-a-half minute long "Safety," the second song on Bzzzz. His lazy droning vocals evoke Thom Yorke (as does his falsetto on occasion), while the instruments wax and wane in intensity. "Sickness, Weakness" is the only song with just Vining and his acoustic guitar, and its dreary, folky malaise is compelling, especially when he lets the phrase "don't go to sleep" hang for a brief moment before picking his guitar again.
Simply, Bzzzz. is a beautiful album that fits easily in both the adult contemporary and indie rock genres. It's like musical Valium: smooth, warm and soothing.
"If in Trouble": http://media.newtimes.com/id/553116/
"Sickness, Weakness": http://media.newtimes.com/id/553165/