Set to release their debut album All Right All Riot at the 331 Club on October 19th, Ian Valor & The Vendettas have an ambitious sound waiting to be heard. A rock band based in the Twin Cities, Ian Valor (guitar/vocals), Jeremy “Mel” Melzer (bass) and Sara Horishnyk (drums) deliver a unique blend of old school rock’n’roll, punk, and moody blues in their release. All Right All Riot is a musically fueled hearse, filled with killer guitars, hefty drums, and everything right with rock music.
Hitting play on the album, the title track, “All Right All Riot,” is an instant indication of the swagger that all 11 songs have in common. Ian’s voice sounds like a darker-toned Matt Berninger (The National) with a hint of grit. The first track is supported by solid drums and bass tucked around the vocals. The rockabilly blues continues with “Hardly Tread Lightly” with moments of shouts that spark that inner groove.
“Gimme Fever” has a contagious beat and chorus that lingers with you. The gritty guitars knife through and elevate Ian’s voice. The bass plugs along to underline and enhance the sway of the drums. We then get an energized, albeit short, track, “Cough It Up,” that showcases the screaming vocal and bombastic drums of Sara Horishnyk. The soaring guitar solo divides the song in half.
“All the remedies are superstitions
Feelings in your soul, cough it up.”
The back half of the album intensifies. “Howling the Night Away” should be 2019’s Halloween soundtrack. One of the stronger tracks on the album, Darin Kamnetz’s video perfectly encapsulates the spirit. It speaks of the elusiveness of love and finding a path beyond tumultuous times.
We then immediately hit their fastest paced song, “If I’m Your Man.” The opening yell should get you ready to dance. The beautiful organ swells during the chorus are a great addition and underlying tension that drives the track. Ian’s vocals take center stage and show his dynamics. The bridge churns and then pulls you back to the hook that never gets tired. At 3:21, it’s the perfect length of a single that deserves to be on The Current’s playlist.
The final two tracks are expertly crafted bookends to the album. This is also the point when the culmination of listening to the entire album pays off. You can hear recording engineer Adam Tucker’s cohesive influence in the mood of the album while slightly shifting the sound for each song. “Slowly Slipping Away” is a ballad that has heart and a huge dash of yearning. The fuzzy guitars and subtle claps melt into the vocals.
“Slowly slipping away
But you’re all I want when the sweetness goes astray
But you’re all I want when the stars all start to fade”
Lyrically, the album is filled with themes of longing love and the desire to stay balanced. Cleverly crafted throughout are mentions of religion, the fallout of death, and subtle reminders that music can pull you through. It’s a poignant message for dark times and ensuring we harken back to the things that mean the most to us.
The final track, “Amplifier,” has to be the moment when Sara blew out an eardrum while recording. The song hits you smack dab in your core with the opening drums. The larger than life mixing of the drums and guitars sound like a blazing amplifier. Laced with grandiose guitars and crashing fills, it leaves you wanting more. Or in this case, allowing the CD to start over for another full spin through.
Check out their album release show at the 331 Club on October 19th. The money saved by not paying a cover should wisely be spent on picking up this album.