January 19, 2011 | 6:32am
Whatever Happened to V.B.K.? 7-inch
Young Foole Records/This Side That Side Records
Yorba Linda's Roman Candles are continuing their low-key but enthusiastic releases with their latest efforts, following up three previous cassette-only offerings with Punk Belongs to Us, out on their own Aztec Records label. The band recently had a record-release show for their first vinyl effort, as well as the first thing they've done released on another label. If Whatever Happened to V.B.K.? is the kind of quick, blink-and-you'll-miss-it release that seems to be from another time, it's also another representation of the kind of scene that any number of OC acts are fully embracing: They're just going out there and doing it because it can be done, rather than making a big deal out of it all.
It's still a bit funny, though, to hear lead figure Christopher Gordon begin the title track with the words "When you were young . . . you were punk," given he's not a grizzled veteran himself. But "Whatever Happened to V.B.K.?" has the kind of half-nerdish, half-sweet sound familiar from many of the band's other work--less aggro and more reflective concerning the mental distance already traveled between being "16 years old in the back of my car" and the present. The short length and in-a-living-room recording quality, further punctuated by a wheezing harmonica from Gordon, could make this an early Guided By Voices number, if not so Who-obsessed.
Even stronger might be "More Man," which tells the story of friends out to find God via missions and considers how others should or shouldn't react to the situation. Heady stuff for a short song perhaps, but it's all handled nicely and in similar sonic fashion to the A-side, with a semi-surf-guitar line from Christopher Torres adding a nice bounce to the proceedings. The whole is a portrait of youth and questions faced at that time, and it's precisely the kind of thing that is fresh the first time one goes through it. It's admittedly nice to hear that ramshackle rock & roll thrives still.
Rough versions of both songs can be heard here. Christopher Gordon's personal (and quite active) blog about shows, bands and more is here.