Vinyl Bill - "Too Lazy To Rock" (Best Kept Secret 1998, LIE 005, Cassette)
Vinyl Bill - "What Lo - Fi" (Best Kept Secret 1998, LIE 011, Cassette)
From Aural Innovations #11 (July 2000)
Vinyl Bill is a Scottish duo that plays lo-fi home recorded pop-psych tunes. The band consists of Shawn J. Skinner on bass, vocals, analog synths, sequencing, and samples, and Neil Scollay on guitars, vocals, keyboards, didgeridoo, violin, and sequencing. Most of the songs are acoustic guitar and synth based, with the addition of electric guitar and percussion on some tracks.
There's a nice variety of music on 'Too Lazy To Rock'. Vinyl Bill has a flair for lo-fi pop-psych, as well as trippier and more adventurous spacey psychedelia as well. Songs like "Still" and "Jigsaw Guy" feature floating acoustic psych with strumming acoustic guitars and background drones, and "Still" includes some cool bluesy slide guitar. "Slow Attack" is a well done pop-psych tune with an aggressive fuzz guitar during the chorus that lays down an acidic wall of noise. "Don't Know" is a bouncy pop tune with a good beat and harmonies that remind me of any number of 60's bands. And "Mimosa" stood out as a dark thudding dance tune.
Side two of this cassette had the tunes that I enjoyed most. "Carpenter's Theme" has music and vocals that reminded me of the Residents. It's a creepy song with dual synth melodies, one dark and plodding, the other a high-pitched wailing sound. "Tiger" has some very cool freaky synths, block percussion, guitars, and more spooky vocals, while managing to retain a pop element. And "Evermore (Parts 1 & 2)" are my runaway favorites of all the tracks. It's all here... tribal percussion, Eastern chanting, lulling psychedelic electric guitar lines. The music trips along in a paisley haze that took me by surprise and proves that Vinyl Bill can really trip out when they want to. Mucho freaky.
Though their second release on Best Kept Secret, 'What Lo-Fi' is a reissue of Vinyl Bill's first full-length release and features more of Skinner and Skollay's dreamy and freaky psych tunes. My two favorites are "Dream Tone" and "Pointdexter", the heaviest rockers I've heard on either cassette. "Dream Tone" is very bass-heavy and I wish the recording quality wasn't so muddy because it sounds like there's some cool spacey synths buried in the background. "Pointdexter" makes up for the what's lacking on "Dream Tone" with it's wah'd synth lines and aggressive jams, AND it's a catchy tune!
Other highlights include "Love Is...", which reminded me of "Slow Attack" without the fuzz guitar. Great melody and vocals with lulling guitars and eerie synths. On "Going Well With You", a brain bashing drone vibrates while Vinyl Bill play a druggy acoustic song. It's also got the best freaky space synths I've heard from these guys yet, though the drone threatens to overpower them. And "When He Laughed" is an excellent trippy psychedelic track with meandering synths that carry the song into the stratosphere. Lo-fi indeed... but Vinyl Bill is playing some kick ass trippy songs with a decidedly cosmic edge.
Vinyl Bill's cassettes are distributed by Best Kept Secret, a cassette-only label in Italy that focuses on homemade musicians. For more information you can visit the Best Kept Secret web site.
Contact via snail mail c/o Alessandro Crestani, Via Biron di Sotto, 101 36100 Vincenza, Italy
You can also email Vinyl Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz