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The National Rifle
Vanity Press
(self-released)
www.thenationalrifle.com


If pressed for my first impression of The National Rifle's Vanity Press EP you would be reading a short and disappointing review. Probably something short and sweet like, "Hated it." Thank God for subsequent listens. Otherwise, I would have completely overlooked a truly great EP.

My mistake upon first listen was getting stuck on the opening track, "In The Weeds". It threw me on my first listen. Everything seemed slightly out of place. Super-fast jazz influenced drumming, jangly guitar riffs, flamenco piano and earnest lead vocals, all supported by a chorus of Shangri-Las' style "Oohh-Aahh" backing vocals. Instead of working together as a cohesive track, the disparate styles seemed to crash into each other making the track fall apart. Fortunately, with listens number 2 and 3 and 4 (and on and on) I got it. Vanity Press has been in my CD player ever since.

Track 2, "She's A Waste", is where things came together for me in a concoction of I'm-The-Man-era Joe Jackson indie-pop that pulled all those odd styles into a signature sound. The jazz-style drumming driving the track and weaving in and out of the guitar riffs, while the backing vocals compliment the lead vocals. The lead suddenly sounds impassioned.

"Jazz History Of The World" continues the fun while stealing the guitar line from Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World". "Same Shit Different Desk" introduces a surf/garage keyboard riff that lends to the throwback feel of the EP. Then, for the final track, "Too Much T.V.", the bass jumps out front and drives the album to a close while giving the drums another track on which to shine.

As with any really well put together EP, The National Rifle's Vanity Press comes to an end just a little too soon, leaving you wanting more.

-George Dow

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