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From a murmur to a meltdown: that’s the modus operandi of Vague Choir, a band of longtime friends from Reno, Nev., who have just released their “re-debut” album, “Non-Ultra Joy.”
All three musicians played in the Reno band Mister Vague from 2006 to 2009. After some time in the wilderness (or, really, some time just playing and re-figuring things out) Vague Choir members Mark Earnest (guitar, vocals), Jason Thomas (drums) and Marcus Mayhall (bass, vocals) reconvened in 2012 to dropkick their former indie-pop sound into a whole other area entirely.
On albums and at shows, Vague Choir blends post-punk, power-pop and modern minimalist roots music into songs that roar and whisper in equal measure (and often within the same song).
Calling himself an “insensitive singer/songwriter," Earnest writes the tunes that make up Vague Choir. He started playing solo shows in 2003 as he sought his own place in the neon-rock world of Reno. Playing mostly as "Mister Vague" with a rotating cast of cohorts, Earnest recorded songs and played shows throughout the West Coast.
This led to a debut release in 2004 from Seattle label Unsmashable Records and three CDs in four years from Slothtrop Records of Madison, Wis. Mister Vague albums were played on 100-plus radio stations in the U.S. and Canada and earned sales on iTunes, Amazon and CD Baby.
This included the 2007 album, “Allergic To Everything,” which featured Thomas and Mayhall and was recorded and co-produced by Alan Sparhawk of the indie band Low (Sub Pop). A couple of years later, Earnest and Thomas were also named as two of the "top 101" residents in Reno who built the music scene, as chosen by peers and published in Reno News and Review magazine.
Now with a new, ever-louder chapter in the Vague saga, the intense, near-punk velocity of Vague Choir's shows earned the group a loyal audience in such rock-centric towns as San Francisco, Sacramento, Seattle and Portland. Montana looms!
Future plans include more albums and studio tracks, some for free and some not, and more West Coast shows, again some free and some not. Such is the mercurial world of Vague Choir.