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Western Massachusetts’ The Varlets Impresses With EP

In recent memory, Western Massachusetts has been considered a dead zone in creativity due to its lack of a local music scene.

Tyler Leahy
Opinions Editor




Photo Credit: Reed Sutherland
Photo Credit: Reed Sutherland

In recent memory, Western Massachusetts has been considered a dead zone in creativity due to its lack of a local music scene.

Rock ‘n’ roll revivalists The Varlets do more than fill a void in talent on their latest release, ‘Fever Dream’, a six-track E.P. now available for streaming on Spotify and purchase on iTunes.

‘Fever Dream’ will have a proper physical copy release during a CD release party on Oct. 24 at 9 p.m., located at The O’s in Sunderland.

‘Fever Dream’ finds The Varlets honing a clean, sharp sound, now more comfortable with producing and mastering their material in studio. It offers

The Varlets’ most cohesive effort to date, without compromising the superb musicianship that has been a mainstay in past works.

Guitarists Vassilios Karsaliakos and Sam Pursey intertwine effortlessly, sharing vocal duties throughout the E.P. in a sequence that plays to a complimentary strength. Bassist Reed Sutherland and drummer Pat Brown provide the technical backbone needed for the variety of song structure within ‘Fever Dream’.

Riddled with blues-infused tempo changes, piano keys, and ethereal background vocals throughout, Fever Dreams plays in a manner that suits its title.

Opening track “Electric Pulse” sets an ethereal tone, drawing some comparison to song structure mastered by rock heavyweights Queens of The Stone Age. Similar to a formula executed so well by Josh Homme, Karsaliakos’ voice soars over a plodding riff and hushed backing vocals.

Second track “Any Way I Can” continues the E.P.’s slow build towards an all-out fever breakout, with Pursey purporting “You say you’re searching for a reason to live, well why don’t you just take one of mine?”

Sutherland takes the spotlight on the bass-driven middle track “Tantalized”, which raises the temperature, reaching the feverish sound built throughout previous tracks.

It is followed by a slow, funky interlude that properly reminds the listener that this experience is still a dream, too.

Track five, “Running to Forever” displays The Varlets in a controlled climax and display of energy.

Abundant with intricacies from every instrument, constant tempo changes, and vocals from both Karsaliakos and Pursey, the song sounds as if constructed by musicians with decades of experience rather than a gang of twenty-something  childhood best friends.

Brown’s command of percussion excellence is most evident. The E.P’s most shining moment comes in the form of a masterful guitar solo by Karsaliakos that bleeds through the close of “Running to Forever”.

Closing song “Technicolor Sweetness” provides the picturesque ending needed to complete a work entitled  ‘Fever Dream’, a buoyant cloud of layered sounds accompanied with vivid imagery bellowed by Karsaliakos: “But then the sirens sing:

‘Do you remember when, like colors in the sand we wash away again? You set sail on a golden breeze into the sea you wash away from me.’”

By highlighting ‘Fever Dreams’ with an attention to detail and structure, The Varlets deliver an experience that is more rewarding with each listen.

The release proves they are not just a band skillful at each instrument, but a band that can execute a well-developed concept at ease.

‘Fever Dreams’ imposes a sound both accessible and individualistic enough to garner serious interest that extends far beyond the limits of the Western Massachusetts. music scene.

1 comment

  1. “In recent memory, Western Massachusetts has been considered a dead zone in creativity due to its lack of a local music scene.”

    The above statement could not be further from the truth. Western Mass has a dedicated music scene awash in creativity, and has been noted for its nurturing attitude towards artists and musicians for years.

    Today, interested listeners can sample a fledging metal scene in Springfield, a vibrant indie scene in Northampton, and hear genres as varied as country, alternative, hip-hop and more throughout the Pioneer Valley. Many groups even possess thriving online existences so their music can be heard even without fans leaving their homes to catch a live gig.

    Local music coverage by the Student is appreciated, but painting the surrounding area as “a dead zone in creativity,” is a misguided generalization.

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