I don’t know about Art but I know what I like to listen to…
Vinny Peculiar aka Alan Wilkes is no duplicitous imposter. In an age when so many seem to be lacking in sincerity it is reassuring to know that Vinny Peculiar is not gas-lighting his audience. His latest studio album, “Artists Only”, honours and salutes some of the most studied artists in the last century. Clearly, Wilkes knows his art history and, consequently, his album is a broad canvas.
The opening track “A Bigger Splash” with its Chris Issak-esque (sic) guitar accompaniment is a musical homage to Hockney’s perhaps most famous painting. A painting which symbolises summery days by the pool; in comparison the opening track is also one of surprising, uplifting positivity. After all art can promote lasting memories and have a true impact…
It is easy to wonder at the possible meaning ofRothko’s abstract paintings. The blocks of colour are challenging to say the least for the inquisitive and curious. Although, the linear rock out of Rothko is angular and the repetition of Rothko’s name mimics the blocks of colour in his paintings. The guitar solo offers splashes of purple and pure chrome and I am sure Rothko would have approved.
The solemnity of “Pathetic Lament” is just beautiful. Placed in the listings as it is, following the rockier opening tracks, the contrasting mournful ballad is a joyous poem to human frailty. The sombre line “love’s just a cold calling card” provokes the listener to ponder the true meaning of being rebuffed. The notion of love being “cold” is both a reality and an unspoken truth at times. Thus, the poetic form once again allows us to explore, the at times, lonely human condition. The guitar accompaniment is as melancholic as an ignored door mat on the 14th of February…as the postman walks by, complicit in the unfolding tragedy.
The sinister intro, with a slight echo, fittingly introduces the track Jack the Dripper. The track shuffles onto the mixing palette of the album and we are introduced to another misunderstood experimenter of the abstract expressionist movement: Jackson Pollock. The childlike pun of Dripper corrupting Ripper is apt as Pollock’s modus operandi of employing unconscious splashes, drips and dabs of paint mimicked the Ripper’s unpredictable spontaneity. Pollocklike Peculiar insists on an open mind regarding art and the line “I died to open your mind” encapsulates Pollock’s need for openness for the aesthetic.
Not only is the track “Francis Bacon” a musical pastiche of the Manics, the lyrics are justifiably vague and specific too – in the MSP’s tradition. The chord progression mirrors classic Bradfield, with attendant string bending as punctuation. Obscurelyrics allow for reflection and an excuse to analyse the writer’s “true” meaning. The closing line – “You cut your nose to spite your face” – hints at, well you decide…
Decidedly, funky and rhythmic, the track “Grayson” is proof that Peculiar refuses to paint himself into a corner and be hindered by genre or expectation. The jangling guitar and throbbing bass is at odds with the rock of the preceding tracks. However, the musical backdrop is a lively wash for the lyrical gymnastics with our singer-song writer declaring throughout: “We all need a little more art in our life.” Indeed.
Indeed, you are always aware the album is the work of the artist still known as Vinny Peculiar. His voice is unmistakeable. So is his intelligence, his love of his art and his obvious sense of humour. The line in the opening track, referring to The Grateful Dead “turning their amp way up to 11” will be greeted with a knowing smile by many.
Let’s be honest here, if you prefer your music to be intelligent, thoughtful and diverse you probably won’t suffer buyer’s remorse – after all, “we all need a little more art in our lives” – don’t we!
Artists Only by Vinny Peculiar came out on January 10th and is available from
By: The Swilgate Scuttler