by Lauren Rosier
The music industry has been missing bands and solo artists that possess a different sound than most mainstream artists; however, Philadelphia-based band, Vacationer, has presented us with a solution to what was lacking. Their sophomore release, Relief, has a different, yet similar vibe to the band’s debut release, Gone. The influences of 50’s and 60’s Polynesian music are evident in both releases blanketed over a catchy hip hop beat. With that said, Relief possesses even more of that dreamy pop sense, almost reminiscent to other dream pop bands such as Beach House.
Relief opens with the track, “Stay”, in which lead vocalist, Kenny Vasoli, sings “I want you to stay wherever your heart will go / I want you to make it what your life is for.” The record track paints an image of being in a warm, tropical paradise, but maintains such a chill, airy, and electronic ambiance. Te second track, “Paradise Waiting”, is another superb song about living life and not having any worries. Vasoli sings, “Let’s unwind / Don’t worry your mind / There’s paradise waiting for us in summertime / The warm vibe set your tensions aside.”
Most music fans familiar with Vasoli are probably influenced by the pop punk band, The Starting Line, that he fronted in the mid-2000s rather than the more “abrasive” project, Person L, and maybe not as familiar with Vacationer. We touched upon the different challenges he faced with moving from the pop punk sensibility to a more tropicalia, electronic influenced vibe. “In The Starting Line, we tried to blur the lines between genres, and tried hands at all forms of rock. With [Person L] it was more abrasive, post punk, and blues influences. It wasn’t completely cohesive,” Vasoli explains.
The beginnings of Vacationer were very much influenced by electronic music, such as LCD Soundsystem, Aphex Twin, and Talking Heads. Vasoli had been passionate and fascinated by electronic music for quite some time. “[Electronic music] is very chill and a little less taxing than [pop punk],” he says. With the incorporation of bassist Matt Young’s record collection of tropicalia, exotica, and Polynesian musicians, such as Martin Denny and Esquivel, Vasoli and Young were able to create a sound strictly possessed by Vacationer.
Vacationer’s sound is so unique it’s difficult to choose a song that best represents them as a band. However, Vasoli mentions the last track on Relief, “Onward and Upward,” being a song that isn’t about one subject in particular, but just about “life in general, how it moves.” The uniqueness of the band has posed some challenges for Vasoli moving from his sound with The Starting Line to Person L and now with Vacationer. The Starting Line had a huge following and he expressed, “[the] biggest challenge moving from one band to the next is not to have preconceived notions.” With music fans, it can be hard to go from supporting one sound, then hearing a new project that is completely opposite. “When [I] released the first few Vacationer songs, I didn’t let anyone know that I was a part of it. My name wasn’t in the liner notes. I wanted it to be a fresh sound and didn’t want anyone to know I was a part of it,” he explains.
It’s been a good ride for Vasoli and the band so far. They just did some headlining shows in the States and played some shows with indie rock band, St. Lucia. “The fans seemed to take to us pretty well. [St. Lucia] were delightful and a very generous band,” he exclaimsed. Perhaps it was because you can hear in the songs that they both have similar influences with tropicalia and exotic music and blend that sound with indie rock over catchy hip hop beats.
Next up the band is playing a huge hometown show at Union Transfer with Bleachers on Thanksgiving Eve. Philadelphia has a huge music scene and Vasoli says, “it’s not easy to bring out a hometown crowd. To be able to build a fan base, it’s very meaningful. Being from [Philadelphia] even then it seems like a challenge, so I have nothing but gratitude.”