Upon seeing Vandella, you might just feel the sort of giddiness that rises up when you stumble upon a hidden gem. Indeed, San Francisco’s indie rock/soul darlings have been coolly holding down their unabashed brand of sweaty, sexy, 70s rock & roll with a quiet determination and an eye on the prize since 2008. Visions of Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks have been rumoured to dance in heads as front woman Tracey Holland casts hypnotic spells from her vocal cords and swiveling, Elvis-style hips, both a compelling frontwoman and a monster vocalist, whose voice has been described thusly: “...see vocalist Tracey Holland sing — she has an absolutely amazing voice that has to be seen to be believed.” [Death & Taxes] Sharing vocal and fronting duties with Holland is guitarist Chris Tye, who plays off and around Holland’s vocals with bold, swaggering riffs, borne of a nuanced chemistry that exists between the two evocative of that intangible quality of all great duos. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know it when you see it. Coming from starkly different musical backgrounds (Holland, whose grandmother was an old-school songstress, and Tye a Military brat who found a constant in guitar in an ever-changing adolescent landscape), the tight-knit twosome have had ample time traveling up and down the West Coast over a decade long friendship to hone their individual signatures into a sound that they describe as “rock & roll, roots & soul.” With Fritz Mueller (bass) and Dan Miller-Schroeder (drums) anchoring things down in the rhythm section with an “architecture of jazz, blues, and good old fashioned classic rock” [Nanobot Rock], Vandella has always straddled lines with an authenticity that feels both easy and exciting. In the same breath, you might hear the band compared to modernOday heavyweights like Alabama Shakes, J. Roddy Walston & the Business, and Jenny Lewis, while a heavy influence from their predecessors fits them squarely in a Rolling-Stones-meets-Buckingham-Nicks vein. The package isn’t always categorically neat and tidy, but it’s always interesting,proving that Vandella’s music is as kaleidoscopic as the sum of its parts.
Vandella has come a long way with old fashioned hard work and hustle: Their 2009 debut EP, V, saw the band move 2,000 copies independently, earning them bills at San Francisco staples such as Great American Music Hall, Bottom of the Hill, Rickshaw Stop, and Café Du Nord. In May 2012, with several West Coast tours completed, they released the fullOlength Fire"in"the"Desert, mixed and mastered by Kevin McMahon at Marcata Studios (Swans, Felice Brothers, Rhett Miller). 2014 saw the release of Shine"You"Up, a 12” 4Osong EP. Produced by Scott McDowell (Geographer, Stone Foxes, Sean Hayes) and recorded at legendary Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco, Shine"You"Up encapsulates the strong songwriting, bodacious delivery, and interplay of genres that Vandella has come to be known for. Having toured the West Coast extensively and with successful stints at SXSW under their belt, the foursome is entering Hyde Street Studios once again, with McDowell at the helm, to record their fourth studio album in late 2015.