Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Bees Every Step's A Yes 2010

Difficult to describe, primarily because they are delightfully all over the musical map, this fine young band of Englishmen from Isle of Wright have made an excellent new record.

This is the second of their four records I've bought, and I'm very happy they've come through again. Free The Bees from 2004 was a rare and unique find, full of funky surprises and great songs. I was almost afraid to give them another try.

The album opens with I Really Need Love, a rollicking folk-rocker that is perfect English summertime. Winter Rose is a dark dub of a song that feels like a cross between The Bee Gees circa Odessa and The Specials Ghost Town. Silver Line and No More Excuses dig into the psychedelic-folk groove that the band is most famous for, but the band really is a lot better than that category description might lead you to believe. Change Can Happen takes a Velvet Underground line for a roll in the proverbial English countryside hay, and comes out like a sad calliope melody. Several mellower tunes round out the record, but the quality of the songs, the singing, and the playing are exceptional always. The record closes with Gaia, an instrumental that rocks with abandon, and sounds like a Mariachi band on steroids.

The whole psychedelic label they get in the press bothers me. It is descriptive of their sound (sometimes), but it is also wrong, especially since there are a plethora of musical influences going on here from reggae, funk, soul, psych, 60s garage and 70s country rock. The calmer moments remind me of Lambchop at their best, and the more upbeat songs are uniquely The Bees, even when they sound eerily familiar.

It doesn't sound like everything else. And it's good.

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