Words: James Frostick
Band image: Chelsea King
Two years on from the release of their debut LP New Age and one year removed from 2019’s Company Man EP, Geelong-born punk foursome Vintage Crop return with a new full-length record in the pipeline called Serve to Serve Again. Today we’re premiering the record’s first single ‘Gridlock’ – a nimble and nervy punk number that’s the perfect antidote for bumper-to-bumper peak-hour frustration.
Although the pandemic has forced myself (and countless others) to work from home, I’ve still got many of years of commuting already under my belt. Nothing makes a crapper of a day worse like a long and slow drive home, or white-knuckling a trip on a crowded bus or train. Geelong’s Vintage Crop know all about the soul-crushing nature of traffic. As proof, they’ve written a whole song about the dreaded 5:00 pm crawl. To hear such a savage appraisal from Vintage Crop comes as no surprise – they crew is adept at navigating the rat race, and they’ve also come to be pretty good at channeling their mounting frustration into garage-punk hitters to boot.
As far as names go, ‘Gridlock’ essentially makes the topic at hand plainly evident, but Vintage Crop manage to make ranting about inner-city traffic a fun listen. The whole track boasts a momentum that real gridlock lacks, and Vintage Crop is quick on the trigger when it comes to firing off frustration-laced riffs and vexed vocals. The secret to the sauce is a combination of elastic and malleable low end, duelling dexterous guitars and a percussive tempo that is diametrically counter to the depressing automobile stand-still the band’s members find themselves in daily. The lyrics themselves are straightforward, but hint at the band’s surrealist leanings. At one point the words are literal (“I’m stuck in the middle of the gridlock / nine to five and I wanna get home / hustle and bustle of the inner-city traffic / driving me nuts and the radio is all static”) and at others absurd (“I wanna get home / take me to my safe place / where I’ll drink tea with my garden gnomes“). The crew hint at traffic being the great equaliser between those at the top of the corporate ladder and the drones beneath (“stuck in line like the rest of us“), showing that at the end of the day nothing brings us all down to earth quite like stand-still traffic.