Jerri writes pop songs and I fuck them up,” said Vacation guitarist Peyton Copes in a 2012 interview with Scenepointblank. If you wanted the bio to stop right there, it could. Put that shit in lights. Rarely are bands able to sum up their existence so succinctly, yet so accurately.
Yet stopping there would be selling the Cincinnati, OH-based trio very short. It would say nothing about the band’s increasingly tight songwriting, the exuberance that comes blasting out with every peal of feedback from Copes’ guitar or out-of-control bass slide from Evan Wolff. It wouldn’t cover the evolution of Jerri Panic from bash-along, societal-ill transfixed drummer/vocalist into a scarily precise skin beater and lyrically unrepentant romantic (all while still retaining that strong conscious bent). On their sophomore full-length,Candy Waves, Vacation are somehow a garage act with the energy of an 80’s hardcore band, power poppers imbued with Sonic Youth’s chaotic noise, able to switch on a dime between the sweet and the piercing. They’re the kids breaking into the junkyard at midnight with their friends with a busted ghetto blaster and a stack of Ramones tapes, staining their white shirts with dirt while howling at the moon all night (sha-la-la-la), and they’ve somehow topped themselves yet again.
And to think that it all started so innocently, with Jerri and Peyton knocking out a few songs by themselves within Bikehaus, the third-floor loft space in the heart of downtown Cincinnati where they not only lived, but booked a countless amount of shows for bands from all over the American punk underground. What started seemingly as a side band for the two, with Jerri playing guitar/singing in the Dischord Records-echoing The Read and Peyton in the members-in-many-states Till Plains quickly became serious with the addition of You’ll Get Yours bassist Evan Wolff. Local shows spun their way into slots on regional fests. Fests spun their way into a rigorous tour schedule that spanned the entire nation, with bands like Japanther, Nude Beach, Tenement, and a colorful cast of similarly innovative punk peddlers. The band advancement cycle marched forward like it has for so many others, but contained so much excitement.
Such excitement was not confined to the live setting. The Do Shit tape came first, full of high flying, prickly guitar leads from Peyton, anthems for beloved bike crews and big scary dudes. 2010’s Dream Dad 7” established the band’s fruitful relationship with Indiana’s Let’s Pretend Records, while presenting supercharged versions of past material mixed with two other overstimulated originals. Debut LP Vacationpaired songs railing against sexual orientation discrimination, cops, and other subjects with their most clanging production to date, all while retaining an optimistic, lovestruck heart. Recent 7”s Shitty City andCandy Waves advanced the sound further into power pop and traditional punk territory, bathed in tides of lo-fi hiss, while also paying homage to friends and forefathers Shellshag, Al Scorch, and Thin Lizzy.
All of this culminates in Candy Waves the LP, a massive sounding, psychey surfy opus that tips its hat to punk’s past while driving itself at almost uncomfortable speeds towards its future. While we may not realize it, we need bands like Vacation- bands that consistently set their personal bar at levels prohibitive to most, without coming off as self-serious or stuffy. Sure, you (and Peyton) could sum up their appeal in just one sentence, but digging in deeper is so much more rewarding.
-Erik Ziedses des Plantes 4/12/2013