Way back in early 2012 we put the then little-known Florida newcomers Merchandise in the magazine for the first time. In retrospect, I regret not giving their guitarist – one D. Vassalotti – exactly the same-sized coverage a week later.
Vassalotti (David to his mates) is simply one of the most brilliant and inventive guitarists of the past decade, and back then as well as gunslinging for Merchandise he was making excellent solo music, such as ‘Mirror’, the track we wrote about and called “a master class in no-fi guitar heroics that would make J. Mascis proud”.
A couple of days ago Vassalotti released a new song, the first taster of his new album Broken Rope, which is released on February 12 via Hidden Eye and Wharf Cat Records (who are on something of a roll at the minute, with NYC newcomers WALL among their acts too).
The track, named ‘Ines De Castro’ after the 14th century Portuguese noblewomen, is a masterclass in subtlety and storytelling, taking in kings & queens alongside descending chords, soaring feedback and – perhaps in a nod to Merchandise’s breakthrough album Children Of Desire – some tinny, proto-pop drum machines. Ironically, it’s probably the most Merchandise-sounding thing David has ever put out solo, which is an anomaly as the rest of the album steers clear of the predictable. Not that that matters though: it’s a big song.