Half A Cow Records is proud to present their latest signing, Vermishus - a young rock band, fresh out of Sydney's Eastwood. Suburban Parallax is their debut mini-album, which was two years in the making, from that first time Half A Cow put their demo cd in the player (picked out of the mail because the hand-drawn, wobbly-writing, black-and-white photocopied demo cover was so...well, demo-ish) only to be completely blown away by the amazing vocals (can one person really sing so low and so high?), the angsty toughness, and the originality of the songs and the sound. "I like Veruca Salt, Magic Dirt and Fleetwood Mac's Tusk," said Jacinta Perram, the chief songwriter, at the band's first meeting with their prospective record label.
Two years later, Suburban Parallax is ready for release. The sessions, produced by Nic Dalton, capture the vitality of Vermishus at the first stage of their career, making music as if their lives depended on it - with all the urgency and frustration, the untested confidence, the lack of self-consiousness and the seriousness, of pissed-off teenaged girls! - and one boy. That's Naren Hooson, on drums, the lone male member of Vermishus. Then there's Jacinta Perram who writes most of the songs, plays guitar and does backing vocals, Anna Needs on guitar, Liz Eylander on lead vocals and Lizzie Lamb on bass.
Their only previous release was an earlier mix of Amaze Me which appeared on Half A Cow's La Femme, No Homme? compilation.
If you haven't heard of this group before, then obviously you weren't paying attention late last year when I reviewed that Half A Cow chick sampler (er, sorry, the La Femme, No Homme?/She Loves You Vol.1 18 track compilation of entirely female-driven bands, as the powers that be at Half A Cow would rather refer to it). Once I got over my confusion as to why Half A Cow would throw something like that at us for review, but not the Plunderers' Banana Smoothie Honey double CD retrospective, I found that one of the best tracks on it was "Amaze Me" and it did just that.
At the time, that track was listed as being from a forthcoming EP by a group I'd never heard of. Vermishus was the group and Suburban Parallax is that EP. At just a shade under twenty five minutes it lives up to the promise of the promo track, which is also on this EP and thus goes a long way to proving my assertion about promo albums, that you end up buying the albums of the tracks you really like and never playing the rest again after the first few listenings, leaving even the sampler tracks you liked as unnecessary duplicates (he said with a self-satisfied smirk, although in this instance I didn't buy either the promo album or this EP; they both just magically appeared in the old letterbox, courtesy of the combined efforts of HAC and Aust Post).
Someone suggested to me a while ago that Bubble Vicious might be the new Nitocris, but on the strength of this, they might well get pipped at the post by Vermishus (yeah, yeah, I know that invoking the name of Nitocris only leads to derision in some quarters, but I'm talking broadly about Nitocris as flag bearers of the all-girl, no holds barred, punk rock ideal, rather than some night early in their career when they might have disappointed you in person). Vermishus are less overtly metal than Nitocris, but they've still got an extremely "solid" sound.
I do still hear some Cranberries overtones in the vocals, particularly on the two longest tracks ("Silencet" and "Amaze Me"), both of which ascend to near Wagnerian heights, though old Dick Wagner never got around to covering teenage angst like this, not even in his longest opera (and on those hard seats at the opera house, they must all seem like they go on forever).
From the ominous opening "Bleed Out", with its "Tusk"-like percussion and its full throated guitar, like a hotted up Monaro with a blown muffler taking a roundabout at high speed, to the short, sharp closing "Fat Controller", a garagey toe tapper that sounds like the Del Emmas on an explosive mixture of under the counter steroids and angel dust, this EP absolutely rips - ear drums, clothes, you name it. In between those bookends of the EP, the romantically named "Cyst" has replaced "Amaze Me" in my affections.
I still haven't managed to catch this band live yet (they seem to have an annoying knack of only booking themselves gigs on nights when I'm otherwise engaged, though that's more my problem than theirs), but on the strength of this EP they should be capable of putting on a pretty righteous display of Le Big Rock as it is practiced in the better barrooms and leagues club auditoria of this part of the globe. - John McPharlin, I-94 BAR ***1/2 stars