TheVines:Rocking Your Brains Out With Enthusism and Rage

Essay by anarchy July 2002

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Bristling with aggression and a hard rock attitude, Vines singer Craig Nichols is throwing his guitar around, his back to the audience, his arms flailing, singing and screaming like you never thought possible. But since this is the 21st century, and guitars are expensive these days, he's allowing the strobe lights to do all the hard work for him, the dizzying beams of colors confusing the scene just enough to make us believe that it's the real thing.

The Vines enjoy old-school tricks played with new intensity. With their love of melody on their sleeves, with a screaming wrath burning in their hearts, they go for McCartney's tunefulness and Cobain's raw anger. By taking elements of the Beatles and Nirvana, they have come up with a sound that's raw new and their own. Their looks are also a part of them on stage. The hair that does it - from guitarist Ryan Griffiths's centre-parted grunge affair to Nichols's indie-boy urchin cut.

Add on innate, straight-from-the-beach Australian appeal and their NME pin-up status is assured.

Once the thrashy punk of Highly Evolved (their first single) begins, the fact they look a bit like your identity-seeking younger brother ceases to matter. Nichols's sore-throated yells invigorate as the rhythm moves like a ping pong, his frantic rock'n'roll riffs tempered by a wave of gentleness before the guitars jam into the song once more. Their new song "Get Free" only lasts 92 seconds but then you're left feeling like the victim of a hit and run.

When they're not attacking our senses - or inspiring riots with the droning majesty of warped nursery rhyme Mary Jane - the Vines are out to seduce us. Autumn Shade is gorgeous, and drowsily slips into Beach Boys territory as Nichols cups the microphone stand, appealing...