“Vermillon” is not only a great album, it is the kind of rock ‘n’ roll album rarely made anymore, the product of a collective vision – a real band – rather than the mind of one singer-songwriter. The songs reflect the diverse background of the Continental Drifters’ members, who come from the dB’s, the Bluerunners, the Bangle, Dream Syndicate, the Steve Wynn band and the Cowsills.
But all those parts don’t get in the way of a cohesive whole. Each song, from the jangle-pop and harmonies of “The Rain Song” (which would be a hit if the drab wasteland that is radio played anything this good) through the raucous, cautionary “Don’t Do What I Did” to the soft and lovely “Anything,” seems to have tapped into the vein of great rock ‘n’ roll, achieving a wonderful balance between rootsy authenticity and pop hooks that proves highly addictive. They emphasize the songs over the attitude, but can still rock with a snarl and a sneer.
Nearly as much a rumor as a band – at least on the national scene – for the past several years, Continental Drifters seem to have solidified their lineup. With the songwriting and singing split several ways, male and female voices sharing the lead and a tautness honed in countless live performances, Continental Drifters are a very special band and “Vermillion” just might be the best album of the year.