Plague Vendor’s debut LP “Free to Eat” is a 10 song burst of howling vocals and wiry guitar riffs which contrast some intensely groovy bass lines. The California based four piece recently signed to the great Epitaph Records for the release of their first album and overall, I’m pretty impressed. Lead in track “Black Sap Scriptures” is my favorite on the album. The bass in the background establishes a phenomenal sliding beat which helps define sharp tempo changes and haunting vocals by lead singer Brandon Blaine. After the lead in track, the band shifts dramatically which was shocking at first but ended up making a lot of sense. Second track “Cursed Love Hexed Lust” sees Blaine’s vocals elevating to a shrill howl akin to Jack White on some of the early White Stripes records. Jay Rogers guitar speeds up throughout the song and gets the blood pumping after the more melodic opener. “Breakdance on Broken Glass” has a unique back and forth between the vocals and the pounding drums of Luke Perine who erupts with intense ferocity after each break in Blaine’s singing. “My Tongue is So Treacherous” opens with a riff reminiscent of Dick Dale overlaid with a piercing howl which goes on for longer than I thought humanly possible, but works against the surf rock style guitar. Self-titled track “Plague Vendor” sees the band spelling out its name as the chorus which gets a little annoying but works with the songs chunky, broken rhythm. Other songs like “Seek the Ruby Scarab” bring Jack White back to the table in a big way with a chorus that could literally be a White Stripes or Dead Weather B-Side. Interestingly enough, the album closes with “Neophron Percnopterus”, a song which sees Blaine returning to vocals similar to “Black Sap Scripture” allowing the album to come full circle. In this way the open and closer act more as warm up and cool down tracks for the explosions of intensity that is the eight middle songs. The band maintains the punk rock speed and aesthetic throughout most of the album with some definite Lo-fi influences and ample amounts of garage rock glory. This young band is currently touring with the Vans Warped Tour which is stopping at its usual spot in Mansfield this summer. If you have tickets I would HIGHLY recommend checking these guys out as their live show is supposed to be off the charts. If not, at least give the record a listen because it’s some marvelously gritty rock and roll.