For all those idiots who said that a President Trump would mean better punk rock in this god-forsaken world, then here’s Exhibit A: Guilt Ring, the second helping of acid tongued punk rock smashers from Vaguess. Across 14 songs that rarely break the minute and half marker, Vinny Vaguess wields Roky Erickson-esque demonized guitar solos as deftly as his sharp eye for sordid details. On his follow-up to 2015’s compilation The Bodhi Collection, Vinny successfully peels back the sun dappled, “surf’s up” lies of the California tourism board to reveal scenes of domestic discord that would look just right as plot points in Repo Man.
Standing among the wreckage of his generation’s swan dive into mediocrity and malaise, Vinny welds a short story writer’s punchy, pulpy plotlines to airtight 1970s American punk sensibilities, tapping into the anxieties and fears that spurred bands like The Adolescents and The Descendents. These songs sure are bleak: they’re about guys getting their girlfriends pregnant and thinking it’s some kind of accomplishment (the title track), kombucha-swilling yuppie scum herd mentality (“Sober Cult”), pornography and Internet addiction (“Private Windows”) and TWO songs about how Life, that glorious beautiful miracle, is really just a little too long, thanks (“Life’s Long Enough,” “Less 2 Live For”). All of it played to the hilt with heaping doses of black humor, sharp hooks (this is the first Vaguess album to feature Miles Lutrell, of Useless Eaters and Scraper, on drums) and zinger riffs. Vaguess is back!