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The Vines

Tuesday, July 9, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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The Vines
  • The Vines

It took the Vines all of 94 seconds to get the Brits in bed. That's the length their debut single, "Highly Evolved," clocks in at, and that little jolt of prickly, radiated pop was enough to cause the U.K. mag NME to declare the Vines "the best band since Nirvana."

Such a comparison is apt, if overblown -- we've come to expect nothing less of the hyperbole-mad English music press. Like Kurt Cobain, Vines frontman Craig Nichols is a bundle of neuroses: all mood swings, scratchy throat, and hair greasier than a Big Mac. The chronic pot smoker shows the same disregard for his guitar as he does his lungs, breaking strings, muddying chords, and dropping mangled solos.

Still, Nichols manages to succeed where other Cobain clones -- e.g., Gavin Rossdale, Daniel Johns -- have failed, in that he seems to possess a greater awareness of what is perhaps the most crucial aspect of Nirvana's legacy: the band's ability to speak to the indie-rock elitist and the Budweiser-swilling goon in the same breath. Sure, Cobain may have decried the frat boys who started turning up at his shows once Nirvana hit, but he himself was weaned on Sabbath and Sammy Hagar, and Nirvana's music was always infused with an underlying arena-rock appeal.

Much the same can be said of the Vines. Beneath the crunch of breathless rebel yells like "Get Free" and "Outtathaway!", from the band's forthcoming debut, Highly Evolved, lies a progressive pop savvy, mating the intricate melodies of Pet Sounds with the heady, robust hooks of Blur. Because of all this, the Vines -- unlike many recent flavors of the month -- stand a good chance of, uh, hanging around.

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