To say that rock and roll is having something of an identity crisis right now is an understatement: Coldplay is headlining the Super Bowl, but the reunited Guns N Roses are headlining Coachella. The line between rock and roll as family friendly and gritty is pretty sharp right now (have you even seen Axl Rose these days?).
In the video for “Dessert Cocaine,” from forthcoming debut EP Sweet Dreaming, Austin’s Daniel Eyes & The Vibes pick a definite side: from the song’s title to the opening images of packed ashtrays, crushed beer cans, and a naked young woman in the shower, the darker side of the rock-and-roll lifestyle is in full effect. Director Ryan Orenstein continues the tour through shots of motorcycles riding in the dirt, the band playing on a stage adorned with bare lightbulbs, and all the tattoos, cigarettes, and booze it takes to conjure up the Sunset Strip in the eighties.
Of course, though the visual aesthetic for “Dessert Cocaine” is hard on the dirty-glam era, the band’s music owes more inspiration to another period of rock and roll. The song sounds like a lost B-side from the glory days of nineties alt-rock. That’s a compliment—nineties rock had a lot to like, and artists from Kurt Vile to the Gaslight Anthem have made great music working in that vein—but Daniel Eyes explains that the song isn’t as much a celebration of self-destruction as it may seem at first glance.
“‘Dessert Cocaine’ is really a metaphor for trying to find the sweet spot in life, and not torturing yourself along the way with some form of indulgence or habitual reliance,” he says. Sometimes we need to see life at its seedy, sleazy, ashtray-strewn worst to look for brighter days ahead—and when that exploration comes with hooks and guitar solos as catchy as the ones Eyes and his band mine here, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sweet Dreaming is out Friday, January 29. Daniel Eyes & The Vibes Texas dates below:
May 5 @ Nightingale Room, Houston
May 20 @ The Foundry, Dallas