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Vehicle Flips

Vehicle Flips is the lesser known of two indie-pop bands to form from the ashes of the short-lived Pittsburgh group Wimp Factor 14, the other being the bratty Olympia twee-punk band Tullycraft. Vehicle Flips makes a decidedly different brand of underground pop music -- melancholy, guitar-based stuff more in keeping with the aesthetic of the mother group. That's in large part due to the fact that Wimp Factor main man Frank Boscoe is the force behind Vehicle Flips. With help from bassist Tim Parker and a rotating cast of assistants, Boscoe make warm, low-voltage, midtempo pop in the vein of jangle-pop icons like The Go-Betweens and Galaxie 500. It's satisfyingly gimmick-free music, getting by on the strength of its torpid rhythms, circular guitars, and above all else Boscoe's vocals. His voice is pleasant though unremarkable, but nearly every word he utters stands out with crystal-clear wit and insight. Boscoe's lyrical tenor is sardonic, dealing with little things in unexpected ways, as on "Regarding Telephones," on which he analyzes his relationship with his telephone, or the marvelous 75-second-long "Self-Pity," on which he ironically addresses conformity and anonymity ("I am clip art, I live in the public domain/Paste me into your sorry looking document, without credit, without shame").

The aforementioned songs both appear on Vehicle Flips' second LP, The Premise Unraveled, a solid unpretentious album which doesn't try to knock your socks off with bells and whistles, but instead sneaks up on you with clever, ever-so-slightly offbeat arrangements and lyrical revelations like the ones discussed above. That 1998 record was the first of two on the Portland, Oregon Magic Marker label, preceding a 1999 LP titled For You I Pine. As the title of this album might suggest, the tone here tends more towards second person musings on relationships, though this being Vehicle Flips, the mechanisms for these musings are a bit unconventional, as on "Parcel Post," when the songs narrator waits at the post office to collect a package, wondering all the while "Could it be from you?" or in the rather oblique but lovely "Trouble on the Western Survey," which seems to concern a cartographer yearning for his lover.

Vehicle Flips also has a debut record from 1995, In Action, which they released on the old Cambridge, MA label Harriet, which also put out Wimp Factor 14. In addition to those three albums, Vehicle Flips has put out a handful of two- and three-song singles and appeared on a compilation or two.

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