Australian Campbell Burns goes by the name of VACATIONS, who is part of the local Newcastle arts and music collective, No-Fi Records. Burns has only been releasing music under the moniker for a little over a year but has been consistently churning out our favorite tracks in the past year. Once a solo effort, the project is now a group that features friends Jake Johnson on bass, Nate Delizzotti playing lead guitar, and Jospeh Van Lier behind the drums. Most recently, Burns and company have released their experimental collaborative EP, Friends which serves as a companion album to their newest, Vibes.

The wavy opener, Home, is rife with bright murky guitars that string along jocular yet sedated melodies. Entangled in his own wishful thinking and complacency, Burns croons of his lack of drive to go outside and the slow-down of time (“It’s no worries I got nowhere to be but home / life moves so slow when you’re at home). Steady rhythms formed by soft percussions and firm melodic bass lines add to the track’s simmering aura. In some ways, Away feels like the natural bounce back to its predecessor. Acting on his recent complacency, Burns sounds inspired and hungry for change as he plans to leave his hometown and embark on an adventure. Ensconced in the record’s jazzy theme, bubbly guitars are laid against a breezy tempo.

Sounding burnout and crestfallen, Burns tries to ease the nerves of another on the slow churner Relax. As guitars trudge along with viscous reverb, chippy rhythms keep the track lighthearted and free. Reminiscent to their compatriots, Good Morning, Young hinges on evaporating arpeggios that drag you into a dewy wave of euphoria. A coming of age track, Burns counts remaining the days of his youth over dreamy intricacies and a cozy malaise (“you’ve got to act your age darling before you fall back in). A nod to the late great jazz composer, Dave Brubeck is a rushing instrumental track with an uncharacteristically hasty tempo. Closing out with a familiar feeling, Friends feels like the middle ground for everything that came before it, proliferating guitars, cool melodies laced with a sense of ease and messed up feelings.

With Vibes, Burns and company end our year on a right note, in what’s been a pretty rad year for music, with a collection of songs that are beginning to convince me I’ve got another project to call my favorite band.

Cereal Pairing: Fruity Pebbles