The Virgineers - "s/t"
(Liquid Sound Records 1999, LSR-2634)
From Aural Innovations #9 (January 2000)
What a year for great pop-psych. In addition to the The Helio Sequence in the above review we have The Virgineers from Chicago. This is a monster disc that will delight fans of the Beatles at their most paisley, XTC, and their tie-dyed counterparts the Dukes of Stratosphere. The band is a duo consisting of Ken Zawacki on guitars, keyboards, percussion, and vocals, and Bruce Lash on all the same, plus bass.
Acoustic guitars and piano along with gorgeous lilting harmonies characterize the XTC-styled "Love Circus", a stunning opening track. The band makes no attempts to hide their influences and wade into Beatles territory on "Sun", Plasticman", and "Diesel Train". In fact, "Sun" sounds like it could be a lost track from the Magical Mystery Tour sessions with its heavily stringed keyboards and efx'd, but still dazzling harmonies. If I had to choose one track to demonstrate the brilliant use of the studio on this disc it would be "Floating", a lovely song that would have been a certain hit in the Summer of Love.
"How Far Does Space Go?" is the one mostly instrumental track featuring lots of looped guitars and keys and a spaced out atmosphere made even more freaky by its brain-twisting chanting vocals. "Places I've Never Been" has a folk edge like Simon & Garfunkel on acid. And "Be My Guru" is a bouncey tune that is a bit like David Bowie on Ziggy Stardust. And finally, "Lost Balloon" is an easy-paced, heartfelt tune that is pure psychedelic beauty and begins the descent to the disc's finale. In summary, The Virgineers take the 60's into the 21st century with this set of beautifully crafted psych tunes.
Available through Liquid Sound Records.
You can visit The Virgineers at their web site.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz