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Global spotlight fades, but The Vines are still growing strong

International acclaim has been the death of too many bands to mention, but has the crash and burn of any group been as brutal as that endured by The Vines this decade?

Rewind to 2002, and the Australian band was hailed as the saviors of rock on the cover of Rolling Stone and NME, while their music graced one of the very first commercials for a brand new, little electronic gizmo called the iPod. Exposure doesn't get white hotter than that, but the band's spirited take on simple, melodic garage rock on their debut disc, Highly Evolved, was strong enough to withstand the heat. Unfortunately, singer-songwriter-guitarist Craig Nicholls wasn't. His behavior became increasingly erratic, leading to poor performances, members quitting the band and even legal charges when he was accused of kicking a photographer.

Nicholls was eventually diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and sought treatment, but the damage was done and his band was in disarray. He was only able to tour in a very limited capacity, making promotion for the band's second and third albums virtually impossible and The Vines were dropped by major label EMI around the globe.

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So much for the crash and burn, but to their endless credit, The Vines have risen from the ashes with their first indie album release, Melodia. Like its predecessors, the disc is packed with concise -- song lengths average about two minutes -- blasts of aggression tempered by pretty ballads, both brimming over with beautiful melodies. Obviously, the album title is no accident.

While the global spotlight is now far removed from the band and they had every reason to pack it in, the fact that they didn't is more than admirable. The fact that their new music is as good, if not better, than it ever was is cause for celebration.

Melodia is in stores now.

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