Favorite Track: "Closure" Least Favorite Track: "Xayah"
The underground music scene in any given genre is painfully hard to navigate. For every interesting and innovative artist that one might find, there are hundreds of other artists making ameteur music that doesn’t meet most people’s musical standards. However, when one finds an underground artist that they connect with, it can feel immediately special. The gratifying feeling of being able to spread the work of a truly underappreciated artist is one of the great pleasures of being a music consumer. Any person enamored with the feeling of showing off a great artist and album in the underground should look no further than Avenade’s 2020 release, Vice Versa in Such Things.
Vice Versa in Such Things is a revolutionary record for the underground. The entire record, clocking in at just over an hour, is a hulking behemoth, seamlessly blurring the lines between noise rock, shoegaze, dream pop, and even elements of Deftones-esque alternative metal. The instrumental performances are nearly flawless across the board, grabbing hold of the listener with impeccable timing and clockwork precision in a fashion that no mainstream rock record in 2020 has been able to achieve. The vocals, while often drowned out behind walls of noise and guitar fuzz, evoke a certain sense of pain and emotion that feels so unique to Avenade, his voice complimented heavily by the often droning guitar tones. The album is meticulously crafted to the nth degree, and it becomes even more apparent how much love and care is put into the record when it is consumed as a cohesive and holistic experience.
While Vice Versa in Such Things boasts a lo-fi aesthetic, Avenade manages to use this to his advantage in a unique way. The fuzzed-out walls of guitar and vibrant bass tones take full form on the frontlines of the mix on tracks like “Mister Whisper” and “Bitter”, but the recordings themselves never end up feeling overblown or underproduced. Instead, the aspects that could typically be construed as “shortcomings” work in the album’s favor, adding a bleak rawness and vulnerability to the record in the same vein as Loveless by My Bloody Valentine or Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins.
In that same vein though, there are points where Avenade pulls from certain influences a bit too heavily, most notably on the track “J. Frusciante”. Both the guitar tone on the track and much of the vocal performance comes off as a bit too derivative of the early work of The Smashing Pumpkins. Although not a bad track at heart, it does feel like there could have been a tad more instrumental variety to the song. Fortunately though, none of the instances on Vice Versa in Such Things that are somewhat underwhelming manage to detract from the magnificent greatness of the record’s centerpieces.
“Are You Having Fun Yet?” is a grungy, deafeningly loud hard rock cut that knocks the listener out cold. The heavy, driving guitar riff riddled with feedback and distortion is crushingly loud, and the track sports one of the best breakdowns and outros that the record offers as well. Avenade’s vocal performance here is second to none, taking a similar vocal approach as Chino Moreno on any of Deftones’ early work and upping the urgency and candor to a ten. The title track “Vice Versa in Such Things'' is a wonderfully hooky pop rock cut that sticks like glue, almost sounding like something that could have come off a No Doubt record back in the nineties. However, towards the back end of the track, the instrumental breaks down into heavy noise and aggression before completely deteriorating into fuzzed-out punky madness. The track is an unparalleled ride and is nearly unmatched in tone and quality within the tracklist. Towards the end of the record though, its true centerpiece to the record comes to fruition in the form of “Closure”. This song is not only far and away the best cut on the album, but is easily one of the most beautifully harrowing songs to come out of 2020. The gorgeously plucked guitar and intoxicatingly vibrant bass lay a stunning instrumental bed for Avenade’s best vocal performance on the record. The song puts a more positive spin on The Smashing Pumpkins’ influence, being heavily reminiscent of “1979” with a shoegaze twist and a significantly more evocative chorus. The explosive guitar chords and the pained vocals on the chorus of the track are nothing short of heavenly, creating one of the most cathartic musical experiences of the year.
Vice Versa in Such Things serves an incredibly important role in underground music. It is proof that there are plenty of artists out there who do not get nearly enough attention, and that if given the chance their music could change the lives of thousands. It is proof that despite not having the audience and the big budget production, people will continue putting every part of themselves into the music they create in hopes that their album will be the one that speaks for itself. It is proof that underground music is incredibly important and that finding that one artist that speaks directly to you can change your life for the better, and if you spread the joy of their music it can change the lives of others too. Vice Versa in Such Things is a rare underground album that is unmatched in the grander scheme of music, and it should be spread far and wide as such for its innovation in the bedroom rock scene.