VINTAGE CARAVAN – Band Background:
After a wait of 3 years Icelandic trio The Vintage Caravan are back. For those unacquainted with the band, they were formed in 2006 by two 12-year-olds who had a love of classic rock. Only one of them remains to this day in guitarist and vocalist Oskar Logi. They are keeping with the one-word album titles again (the last 2 were called “Voyage” and “Arrival”) in “Gateways”.
Anyone who loves late 60s and 70s rock will enjoy this band, and the new album is one to definitely check out. As previous albums, there are definite influences, but this time round there seems to be even more confidence and a willingness to explore certain avenues further. The production by Ian Davenport is crisp and clear and allows each member to be heard and also captures the moods of the songs.
The words that keep coming up in my notes are “groove, confidence, psychedelic, infectious,” and the phrases “great guitar solo” and “catchy chorus”.
VINTAGE CARAVAN – The Songs Reviewed:
Opener gets the ball rolling very quickly. “Set Your Sights” when it kicks in does so with a groove and a riff that immediately gets the feet tapping and the head nodding. Having a short bass solo (from Alex Orn) and a guitar solo just screams that the 70s are alive and well and still marvelous to listen to. There are also several time changes and sections but it never departs so far that it cannot merge back into the main riff. The ending riff is a great conclusion to a four and a half minute song!
“The Way” is fuzzier sounding with some great drum fills from Stefan Ari. This is more late 60s psychedelia sounding. The guitar solo has some lovely bass work underpinning it. The chorus is another that just gets in the head and is hard to remove. Did I mention the word “groove” before? This certainly does.
One of the best tracks is “Reflections” which has a thumping riff in the intro. Live this should slay all before it. It doesn’t, of course, stay that way as it twists into a sweet sounding track interspersed with heavy moments. The commercial section is wonderfully accessible and the heavier parts are nicely progressive. Each instrument is spot on in the mix. Being a three-piece it is important that each member has great ability as nothing can be hidden. To be able to hear what each member is doing in a band is always good.
“All This Time” is possibly the most commercial song they have ever written. The chorus is terrific whilst it has a nice cool riff that reminded me of Free at points. The soloing had that early Free thing going on as well. The main guitar solo absolutely soars. This is the sort of song that should be played on radio. It would have been a few years ago. I sang along with the chorus on the first play! Did I mention the word “infectious” at any point?
“Hidden Streams” has a touch of Deep Purple with the speeding up intro. But ends up reminding me a little early Scorpions when Uli Jon Roth was playing for them in the psychedelic sounding riff and vocal.
“Farewell” starts up with the sound of a church organ at a funeral, until it changes into a Jon Lord organ sweep into the actual song. Consequently, the riff and melody at the chorus are very strong and captures the mood of the song. The lyric imploring the person to “hold on, hold on, don’t let go” leads into one of my favorite guitar solos on the album. The guitar solos are very pleasing throughout. Too many guitarists do not focus on melody or emotion these days and end up just screaming sound wise. Having grown up listening to folks like Blackmore and Kossoff I am delighted to hear solos that move me.
“Nebula” is quite dreamy sounding at the start until a progressive heavy rhythm comes in. As with previous albums, this is a song with a tad of a Rush influence just before a luscious guitar solo. They have previously taken the music down making it more atmospheric but they seem ever more confident with it than ever as this track shows.
They finish on the longest song of the album in “Tunes Out” which is a total bluesy psychedelic prog work out. Possibly in my view their most ambitious song to date. Utterly captivating with a strong vocal performance. The guitar solo has a Blue Oyster Cult feel about it.
VINTAGE CARAVAN – Final Thoughts:
This is likely to be a strong contender for me when picking my albums of the year. Certainly, anyone that loves bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rush, Free, etc will, I am quite sure, enjoy this latest outing (actually any of their albums) by The Vintage Caravan.
Out now on Nuclear Blast Records.