Locals: Vis-à-Vis explores murkier ground on its debut long player

Andy Downing, Columbus Alive

At first glance, the name of Vis-à-Vis' long-in-the works debutHic Svnt Dracones comes on like a suitable alternate title to the HBO series "Game of Thrones," translating to the Daenerys Targaryen-worthyHere Be Dragons.

In actuality, though, the phrase refers to unchartered territories, coinciding with the medieval practice of illustrating unexplored areas of the map with great mythical beasts. Fittingly, singer/guitarist Mike Finch tends to explore similarly murky ground with his lyrics, which are less rooted in specifics than capturing a general mood.

"I try not to be too literal," said Finch, who will join bandmates Jacob Wooten (guitar), Kyle Frith (bass) and Nate Keister (drums) for a record release show at Rumba Café on Saturday, July 9. "Music that's expansive and loud and at times kind of proggy - those sounds we're going with - I try to leave some more vagaries there. I'm going more for the feeling, if that makes sense."

Even so, a handful of songs take some inspiration from actual events. The album-opening "Get on the Bus," with its lines about smoke clearing out from the lungs, was shaped at least in part by the tear gas-marred Baltimore protests that followed the 2015 death of Freddie Gray. There are also certain themes that surface throughout, with passages that rail against indifference or inaction. "It's not enough just to shout about it," Finch sings on one cut, delivering his words atop a conflagration of guitars and drums.

"It's easy to get caught up in the day to day and just accept things, whether it's an internal emotion, how you're handling a situation or just the world at large," Finch said. "It's really easy to gloss over and ignore the things that are going on around you. Just to be apathetic even in your own growth is bad."

Additionally, there's a gnawing sense throughout of attempting to make the most of one's time - a live-in-the-now feel that could be partially informed by the limited hours the bandmates have to dedicate to the project as grownup responsibilities encroach.

"Not that I don't live [the music] in the same way now, but I remember living with bandmates where your living room was a band room," said Finch, 39, who previously played in the likes of Ease the Medic. "I don't think I was ever delusional about music. I wasn't like, 'OK, we're going to get signed,' or all those things people think music's supposed to be. But when you're young and you're doing it you might play a lot more. It has to be a little more focused now as you adjust to other responsibilities like careers and families and other peoples' schedules. But it's also pure enjoyment."

Rumba Café

8 p.m. Saturday,

July 9

2507 Summit St.,

North Campus



The Saturday Giant,

The Black Antler