Blast From The Past: The Vandalias

Pulled out this old powerpop chestnut and blasted it.

Unfortunately the band went the way of most of the powerpop bands that stormed the 90’s revival – nowhere. A brief flash, some great songs and a lot of memories for record geeks like me who treasure such things. It didn’t mean they weren’t great – they were – but as usual, without radio airplay or any muscular marketing scheme, it was rain through your fingertips.

Big Deal Records was the shit in those days; a roster to die for and a release every month or two by great artists like Splitsville, Cockeyed Ghost, Michael Shelley and The Wondermints. And the series of great Yellow Pills collections…what a time that was! Unfortunately the label didn’t last, either…and sadly, whomever co-opted the label name is doing something completely different these days.

Buzzbomb. Is there a better word to capture the essence of powerpop? Here’s my original review from TransAction

Man, these cartoon characters can rock! Incredible pop rock that hearkens back to Badfinger, Big Star and every “ooh-aah”band that took the lead from the Beatles and moved on. “Down”, “No OneTold Him” and “the faux live “Funk Monkey Baby” rip it up with Cheap Trick energy and harmonies straight out of…The Mamas & Papas?

You bet! Rock ballads too; “Say I’m Sorry” will melt the crustiest of hard hearts. Eleven great songs in thirty five minutes that will make you wonder why someone so talented shields himself behind the front of the “Vandalia brothers”. I won’t expose him directly, but if you want to pay this pop wizard some props, buy Mach V, the previous CD, and dismantle the packaging.

It’s now a decade later, so I’ll save you the treasure hunt. The Todd Rundgren-esque popster was Dan Sarka.

The Vandalias on MySpace



Filed under Music, Reviews

6 responses to “Blast From The Past: The Vandalias

  1. I remember hearing “Big Red Catalina” on a Pop Culture Press sampler and falling for it hard. But the album itself never did much for me. Frankly, that’s how most of the Big Deal stuff was for me. I’d love it the first spin or two, but the charm would wear off on subsequent listens until the disks would go back on the shelf, never to be spun again. (Except for Chopper). Hell, Big Deal was one of the reason I got burned out on power pop.

  2. drbristol

    Chopper was a good one; my favorites were probably the Splitsville discs and the YP compilations.

    What I did notice was that they flooded the market with promos. Nice to get the albums but people started to figure out that if they waited a month they could get anything on their roster for a dollar. More than one person thought it was a cash-wash operation with fringe benefits.

    I haven’t burned out on powerpop yet. 🙂

  3. I’ve heard that before about Big Deal. Someone needs to poke his/her head up and tell the real story. BD was the great power pop hope for a lot of folks in the 90s, and I’m sure fans would like to know what happened.

    I still love a lot of power pop, but it seems to be a genre that works best in brief bursts. I’ve heard way too many bands who have one great song (usually a single), one decent song (that could be a B-side) and a bunch of pleasant but ultimately unmemorable filler.

    But I’m still surprised from time to time. I’m quite taken right now with the Title Tracks and Georgie James.

  4. drbristol

    The Title Tracks – see, I knew I’d squeeze a referral out of you for a band I didn’t know about! Off to check them out now.

  5. A guy named John Davis (not the dude from Superdrag) is the brain trust behind both the Tracks and Georgie James. Well, he’s co-leader of the latter – a young woman named Laura Burhenn was the other principal in GJ. She now leads the Mynabirds, who I’m in love with. They’re not power pop, but they’re still grand.

    I’ve also been giving the Right Ons quite a few spins. Not really power pop, but still…

  6. drbristol

    Jumping on the Tracks because I already love Georgie James – check my best of 2008 – and I’m glad you’re diggin’ the Right Ons, which is one of this year’s faves in my world – gospelfunkrockbluesfacesshuggie music.

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