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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Album Review: Valis - Minds Through Space and Time

Valis (Vast Active Living Intelligence System) are led by former Screaming Trees guitarist Van Conner and his brother Patrick. The band's been making records since the breakup of The Screaming Trees and have featured different lineups over the years. Minds Through Space and Time is their newest, and is reminiscent of the 1990's Seattle grunge sound. There are different moods, and it's not a typical 'grunge' album, but it does capture that time and place we all loved in the 90's. I hear similarities to Mudhoney and early Screaming Trees which makes me ponder whether Conner was the leading influence behind that band. Mark Lanegan has gone off in a whole different direction, placing himself as a dark blues rock singer. But some bands need to provide the rock and roll of the 90's for all those bands that do not make that kind of music anymore. Valis will suffice if you have been missing those days of the Seattle scene and raw, good ole fashioned rock and roll with an edge. They are not trying to re-invent a genre, but continue what is already loved by millions. So for that, I recommend this album as one of the better new albums in a world where most bands are so self-indulgent, nobody wants to rock anymore! 

Minds Through Space and Time was produced by the legendary Jack Endino (Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Nirvana). It’s got all the signature grunge elements; crunchy fuzz pedals, un-processed and un-effected drums, pentatonic guitar riffs, lyrics about everyday life we can all relate to. On a few songs, there seems to be a science fiction ingredient in the words, which goes along with the band name taken from the classic Philip K. Dick book, but the crux of the music focuses around the guitar riffs. This is riff-rock with a lot of heart. I hear influences dating back to MC-5, The Stooges and garage punk bands of the 60’s/70’s. If you’re one of many that feel the Northwest is lacking in the punch-you-in-the-face rock and roll area, Valis will restore your faith in ‘the grunge’. 

Minds Through Space and Time was released through Strange Earth Records, a new label launched by Van Conner and it will also be available on 180 gram colored vinyl in December.

The members of Valis are:

Van Conner - Vocals, Lead Guitar (Screaming Trees, Solomon Grundy, Musk Ox) 
Patrick Conner - Lead Guitar, Vocals (Kitty Kitty, Kittitas, Musk Ox) 
Matt "Vern" Vandenberg - (All Time High, YBs) - Drums


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