Viva Le Vox (a.k.a. Tony Bones plus at least one other freak) began near Lake Worth, Florida in 2008 when Tony thorazine shuffled out of rehab, and has been rolling down the road in one form or another ever since...
Ol’ Tony Bones and crew ain’t making a reviewers job easy with Viva Le Vox’s latest, “Dirt For Sale.” The boys should be applauded for establishing a Frankenstein sound, a conglomeration of ragtime, jazz and punk. This is what makes reviewing it so difficult, as nailing down a reference point to form a basis of comparison in order to give the reader a sense of the sound without using the sense of hearing.Certainly lines of delineation can be found, but they become skewed and cloaked behind some other element in the songs that the connect because.The easiest comparison to make would be to Gogol Bordello, and certainly there are some lazier rock writers out there that would take this comp out, as it is defensible, though a stretch. While the end products could be held a kin, placing both bands under the same narrow banner would be a disservice. The ascetics may be similar, the methods and aims are not.“Dirt For Sale” can best be described as a frantic record, at times it comes off like a Dixieland jazz band (complete with horns) providing the music for the world’s fastest funeral procession. At other moments the music burns with a joyful bitter-sweetness.This juxtaposition is best presented in the album closer “Hope Tank,” which takes the listener through a number of changes in melody, tempo and music styles, each marking off the song like chapters in a book about the almighty buck. This precision with which the band makes the transitions in this song are as impressive in the amount of restraint shown within the orchestration of these movements. Excessive instrumentation has been left at the wayside, along with the cluster fuck of noise that accompanies bands that attempt to add too many layers at one time.This sense of care can be found throughout the record, as only necessary instrumentation is in the mix. Bones even takes it down to just the guitar and voice in a few instances on the disc.Overall, “Dirt For Sale” is a solid release from a band that is changing the perception of rock music is and what it can be.
First things first. Viva Le Vox is not a country band. Hell, they don't even have many roots elements at all. They are odd, they are dark, and they are incredible. On their third release, "Dirt For Sale", Viva takes their elements of circus, soul, punk, jazz, and just about everything else and pushes them to the outer edges of imagination. This is also a stripped down set for the guys, as drummer, Antoine Dukes, puts aside his drum set, in exchange for bongos, saws, and pretty much anything he could get his hands on. This record also marks the first time Joe Buck has played stand up bass on an album, other than his own, since Hank III's "Damn Right, Rebel Proud". A few months back I asked Joe what brought him to this project and he stated "It's just so good, I couldn't say no. Tony (Bones), is an incredible song writer, and these songs are what I was looking for."
Most of these songs were debuted live right here in the Outlaw Radio Chicago Living Room on two separate occasions, Episode #147 and Episode #165, so I am very familiar with this entire set of songs. I just have not heard them with all the bass, and the additional studio tracking.
This is an independent release with no label backing, which made me very surprised when I saw the packaging. Obviously the guys put up a decent amount of money to give everyone the best possible product. The CD comes in a Digi-pack package with a full glossy booklet with all the lyrics and some great artwork.
Once you actually get the cd in your player in when the real magic is revealed. The record opens with the haunting "Cardiovascular & Otherwise", where they make work of the kazoo and tongue fiddle right off the bat. Tony Bones' Vocals are strong, and the bass provided by Joe Buck perfectly fits the mood of all the tracks.
Other stand out songs include "Perilous State", where Antione brings out the Singing Saw for the darkest track of the disc, "Confessions of a Masochist", is the most up-beat song here, with a little Physcobilly flavor that may remind some of the Goddamn Gallows. And, my favorite track of the album is "Hope Tank". I have heard it live here, as well as at shows, and it gets me every time. This song alone has so many elements of styles, it will fascinate the modern music fan.
Above all, "Dirt for Sale" may not be for everyone, as many folks may not have an open mind to all the sounds that come their way. But, Viva Le Vox is certainly something special with one of the most original sounds and live shows I have seen in a long time. We are lucky that they are part of our little Roots Movement, performing at Muddy Roots, Heavy Rebel, among other festivals. This band is on the road nearly year round and will likely be hitting your city soon.
Focus Tracks: "Perilous State", "Dirty Old Window", "Rhythm in the Dirt"
For Buzzbin Magazine in Canton, OH
Outlaw Radio Chicago