“I don’t think it’s gonna die, but it’s definitely changing,” No Vacation’s James Shi told me over the phone. “But we can’t keep dividing young people living in the Bay Area between punks and tech bros. It doesn’t matter if you work at Google or Starbucks if you make good art.”
The art scene in the Bay Area has seen a considerable shift in recent years with the tech industry taking over what used to be the counter-cultural capital of the world. These days, artists can’t afford San Francisco’s astronomical living expenses, so they’re moving to Oakland or clear across the country.
Bay Area-based dream pop outfit No Vacation is a living embodiment of this trend, as vocalist and guitarist Sabrina Mai now lives in New York City.
Somehow, they still manage to make it work by playing stripped down sets in New York, sending a lot of voice memos and remaining very democratic. But that’s not to say that it hasn’t had its ups and downs.
On their single “Mind Fields,” which Stereogum premiered in April, No Vacation delve into the time they decided to call it quits.
“I wrote this during the period when we were broken up. For me, writing is a cathartic thing, and it helped me get over breaking up with the people I cared about,” Mai said.
So yes, it’s a break-up song, but it’s not sad per se -- it’s wistful. It’s full of sweet, tender longing modulated by buoyant guitars and light, rhythmic flourishes. It really is contemporary dream pop at its finest.
Below, listen to their newest single, “Yam Yam,” out now via Topshelf Records.
If you like Tops and Land of Talk, this is a band you’re going to love. If you don’t, No Vacation are still a band you need to know.
No Vacation play Soda Bar with the Bilinda Butchers on Monday, June 5. Get tickets here.
Rutger Rosenborg was almost a Stanford neuroscientist before he formed Ed Ghost Tucker. He now plays in the Lulls and makes music on his own when he's not writing. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.