VHS or Beta

VHS or Beta

 Bayonne, New Jersey, USA
BandRockAlternative

We are having a party and you are invited to enjoy with us.

Biography

They say location is everything, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the aesthetic shift audible on Diamonds & Death, the fourth album by VHS or Beta, was accompanied by a change of zip code. Two years ago, founding band member Mark Palgy relocated from Louisville, KY to Brooklyn, NY. Six months later, his creative foil, Craig Pfunder, followed. From the backroom disco of their favorite Bushwick watering hole, to DFA Records' Plantain Studio in the West Village, new surroundings exerted a powerful influence on the predominantly electronic grooves of their first full-length since 2007's Bring on the Comets.

"The pace in New York is a lot faster, and I love that," says Mark. "You absorb the energy of the people around you here by osmosis." "Now we're in a place where we're learning a lot from other people," adds Craig. "It's a totally different dynamic, and it's been great for us to be in the thick of it."

The other key influence on VHS or Beta's revitalized sound is their work as DJs and remix producers. Since 2008, the duo has put its distinctive stamp on cuts for artists like My Morning Jacket, Tegan and Sara, and Hussle Club, garnering significant attention for their remix of The Juan MacLean's 2008 barnstormer "Happy House." The pair soon realized their musical roles had evolved far beyond the traditional tags like "bassist" and "singer/guitarist" they accepted when VHS or Beta first formed as a five-piece in 1997; in particular, Mark discovered a natural talent for arranging and drum programming. "We started really enjoying those jobs, so it felt like a natural step that we would begin writing in that vein, too," says Craig. "There wasn't a conscious decision to depart from guitar for this record, but sonically, the sounds that were really exciting us were a lot of synthesizers." Although they recorded primarily in their home studio, using whatever sounds were at hand ("we're not vintage purists," insists Mark), they availed themselves of the DFA posse's cadre of analog synthesizers and peculiar plug-ins while recording the drums and mixing at Plantain Studios.

The album juxtaposes more straightforward dance floor tracks like the jittery "Watch Out" with experimental fare such as "Jellybean," a trippy excursion pitched somewhere between Pink Floyd and the dark side of Italo-disco, and partially inspired by the records they heard spun in the backroom of Tandem, a favorite bar in their new neighborhood. Indeed, themes of duality permeate the record. While the grooves of Diamonds & Death are among the band's most optimistic and propulsive to date, it is no accident that they are often paired with dark lyrics, as on the crisp, percolating single "Breaking Bones." "That's something I always loved about the Smiths," explains Craig of this artistic choice. "You had this supremely uplifting pop music, with this somber message, being told in a very interesting way, by a beautiful voice." Even the making of the record was punctuated by contrasts; as excited as the guys were by their move to New York, Craig initially found himself bested by writer's block while working on lyrics.

A few songs began life in Louisvillemost notably "I Found A Reason," an uplifting, piano-driven number with echoes of Inner City's 1988 classic "Good Life" and big group vocals a la Chicbut the majority of the album was written and recorded after Craig and Mark had settled into Brooklyn. Yet even as the pair crafted tunes suitable for club play, they retained their trademark pop sensibilities. Selections like the title tune and "All Summer in a Day" are still anchored by concise melodic hookseven if they aren't necessarily found in the most obvious placesand fleshed out with dynamic, unpredictable arrangements. "We pushed our boundaries further with this one," admits Craig. "Whereas the last record was all about three minute pop songs, this time we thought, 'Let's make them six minutes.' Keep that pop feel, but pick something in the middle and stretch it out longer than we might have done in the past."

The duo admits that before starting work on this album, they shied away from the natural inclination to explore some of these electronic timbres and different songwriting styles, for fear they'd be unable to replicate the music live. But no more. "With this record, we said, 'Screw that! Let's go in there and write whatever puts a smile on our face, and feels right and good,'" concludes Craig. "Diamonds and Death is the direct result of that."

Lyrics

Breaking Bones

Written By: VHS or Beta

try, try and piece together
the trust it's falling apart
and once, once we were together
our time, time had not died
stand, stand inside the weather
we build, we build with our hands
now, now it's lost forever
inside, inside of our heads

i have a hard time judging what's real
i'm breaking bones just to prove i can feel
the simple fact is that i'm fading into silence
and i scream to hear the memories of all we used to be
i've said too much
i'm out of touch
done not enough
and your out of love

fear, fear of being swallowed
inside, inside of our doubt
believe, believe in something bigger
believe, believe what you shout

there was time when we were young
and love was in our hearts
when we could sing the songs
and every word meant something more
and more it slips away
each second every day
until you can't remember my name

i have a hard time judging what's real
i'm breaking bones just to prove i can feel
the simple fact is that i'm fading into silence
and i scream to hear the memories of all we used to be
i've said too much
i'm out of touch
done not enough
and your out of love

Under the Sun

Written By: VHS or Beta

i wanna feel it alone
i wanna feel from the inside
i wanna take it alone
i wanna take it with you

i wanna feel it alone
i wanna feel it from the inside
i wanna go alone
i wanna be with you

be with you

those words that fall from your mouth
lie scattered hungry for a victim
they storm through the songs
of my heart and my soul
you sink your teeth into love
but never do you swallow
you wear my heart like a charm
and it fits like a glove

you got me all wrapped up
and now i don't know what to do
i've got one foot inside your door
but not the other shoe
i must be crazy cause i never
think i'll figure this out.
i'm tryin to make up my mind
but i can't seem to see
now that you're heart is in my head
this is just killing me
i must be crazy cause i never
think i'll figure this out

we we lie under the sun
we stare into the bottoms of the hearts
that we fight to love
and we we lie under the moon
we fall back into arms that hold the dreams
that we never knew, we never knew

Diamonds and Death

Written By: VHS or Beta

love it's better in light
and life, it's better in love
alive
alive
alive
my heart travels in time
it sings, sings with the night

don't leave me
diamonds and death

don't leave me with diamonds and death

diamonds and death

inside of everything you are
still lives everything i am

don't leave me
diamonds and death
don't leave me
diamonds and death

don't leave me with diamonds and death

diamonds and death

I Found A Reason

Written By: VHS or Beta

the first time that i saw you
was the first time that i knew
that lovin you was dangerous
but something that i'd do
we're blinded here together
we're one and of the same
back and forth through misery
i've got to save myself
and take away this pain

this time i see straight through you
this time i'm not to blame
the reasons we both fall apart
are tragically the same
we own our fate together
but equally apart
back and forth through history
we've got this one last chance
to save our hearts

i found a reason
to fight all my fears
to finally let go of all of these years
i found a reason
to trust in the faith
that everything eventually finds it's way

i found a reason

i want your desire, you fire
to feel like something more
to take this love higher, desire
to feel we can be sure

Everybody

Written By: VHS or Beta

seein inside the bottle
inside the blanks in your eyes
fallin through every second
between the words and the lies
seein inside the bottle
inside the blanks in your eyes
fallin through every second
between the words and the lies

everybody
turns their back on love sometime
when your feelin
that you've reached the end of the line
maybe someday
we'll know better how to find
a better state of mind

feeling
when nothing's spoken
besides the look on your face
stealing
from all that's broken
from love we'll never replace
feeling
when nothing's spoken
besides the look on your face
stealing
from all that's broken
from love we'll never replace

dreaming
is all that's left when
hearts get lost on their way
sleepin
through endless winters
dream what's left of our days

everybody
turns their back on love sometime
when your feelin
that you've reached the end of the line
maybe someday
we'll know better how to find
a better state of mind

All Summer In a Day

Written By: VHS or Beta

and everyday
it's the same thing
i'm staring into sky
and every night
it's the same thing
i'm staring across the sky

and when you leave
i won't be there
i'm falling from the sky
and when you shine
i won't be there
i'm falling from your eye

we are life
we are lovers
we are tied here to one another
in the dark
of the night
i will stay here and be your light

we are life
we are lovers
we are tied here to one another
in the dark
of the night
i will stay here and be your light
be your light

i will stay here and be your light

we are life
we are lovers
we are tied here to one another
in the dark
of the night
i will stay here and be your light

Eyes

Written By: VHS or Beta

in your eyes
it's simple now to see if i try
this feeling in my heart won't subside
and nothing will ever compare you know it's true

so tonight
i'm giving everything in my life
there's nothing left for me to deny
i'm waiting here for you until everything's alright
cause you gotta know

Watch Out

Written By: VHS or Beta

all of our lives
we've been waitin for love
we've been waitin for something right

Jellybean

Written By: VHS or Beta

(Instrumental)

Discography

Diamonds and Death - (Krian Music Group/Chromosome Records 2011)
Bring on the Comets - (Astralwerks, 2007)
Night on Fire - (Astralwerks, 2004)

EPs and Singles

"All Summer in a Day" - (Chromosome Records, 2010)
"Feel It When You Know" - (Chromosome Records, 2009)
"Burn It All Down" - (Astralwerks, 2007)
"Can't Believe a Single Word" - (Astralwerks, 2007)
"You Got Me" - (Astralwerks, 2006)
"The Melting Moon" - (Astralwerks, 2005)
"Night on Fire" - (Astralwerks, 2004)
"Solid Gold" - (Astralwerks, 2003)
On and On EP - (1998, ON!)
Le Funk EP - (2002, ON!)