L.A. group pushes boundaries with latest full-length album.
L.A. rockers Plague Vendor introduced themselves to the world with the unbridled energy of 2014’s Free to Eat. Raging through 10 songs over a lightning-quick 18 minutes, the punk-infused quartet didn’t need much room to make a lasting first impression.
They returned in 2016 with BLOODSWEAT, an album that didn’t exactly turn down the intensity, but almost doubled the first album’s run-time and used the extra space to expand the band’s sonic palette.
Last week, they released their third full-length album, By Night, a collection of songs that not only bridges the gap between their first two records, but takes the sound even further.
“It’s completely different from anything we’ve done,” said singer Brandon Blaine ahead of the band’s upcoming one-off show in San Diego. “It’s going to be a whole new experience for the fans -- and it was for us as well.”
That’s likely due to the fact that the band worked on the new record with John Congleton, the veteran producer who has overseen albums from the likes of Kimbra, St. Vincent, Nelly Furtado, Blondie and others.
Despite having enough material to move forward not long after the release of BLOODSWEAT, the band was intent enough on working with Congleton that they were willing to wait months until there was a hole in the busy producer’s schedule.
“We waited a while for him,” Blaine said. “It was just that everything we were listening to that we liked, John had done. And really, everything that we wanted By Night to be like had his stamp on it. So it just came down to that. But it ended up all working out. Once we did get together, it really clicked. It was great.”
And it shows. By Night is the band’s most accomplished work, if for nothing else than the fact that Blaine and Co. move effortlessly through the frenetic drive of songs like Prism and lead single New Comedown just as easily as more measured tracks like All of the Above and In My Pocket.
But perhaps it’s a song like Snakeskin Boots that really shows the greatest leap for the evolving foursome. With long stretches of Blaine singing without any kind of accompaniment, the frontman and the rest of the band have come a long way from the wild yawps and musical assault of their debut.
And that’s just the way Blaine wants it.
“We’ve definitely grown up a bit,” he said. “We always write from our hearts, but this whole thing has been one big lesson. We recorded Free to Eat one way, we did BLOODSWEAT another, and this new record yet another. We’ve worked really hard to stay away from being called just one kind of band. And these days, the more that you can do that’s different is a good thing.”
The band’s upcoming performance at Music Box is their only North American show before heading to Europe on June 26 for a new stretch of dates.
They’ll return to the States for more shows later this year, but still refuse to call Wednesday night’s stop in Little Italy a “warm-up.”
“I don’t really look at it like that,” Blaine said with a laugh. “To me, a warm-up is right before we go on stage to play. Everyone who comes out to see us deserves the full thing.”
And while Plague Vendor has just started the process of sharing their new album with the rest of the world, it hasn’t stopped them from looking ahead as well.
“I can’t wait to write even more new music,” said Blaine. “I’m already thinking about new themes and new vibes. I know we just started this process again, but I’m really eager to do another record. I think we all are.”
When: 8 p.m., June 12
Where: Music Box, 1337 India Street, Downtown