Tuesday, July 31, 2018

CD Odyssey Disc 1164: The Beaches

I had a lovely Sunday afternoon reading and listening to music. I’ve still got a backlog of a little over new (to me) albums and every Sunday I can I sit and give those records the attention they deserve. This next album is also from the new (to me) section as well.

Disc 1164 is… Self-Titled
Artist: The Beaches

Year of Release: 2013

What’s up with the Cover? I’m a negative beach, I’m a negative beach, I’m a negative beach…with a crow.

Sometimes the joke is for everyone. Sometimes, it’s for only a few.

How I Came To Know It: Earlier this year my friend Nick discovered the Beaches. I bought this album (plus their other two EPs) at the merch table at the show.

How It Stacks Up:  I have three Beaches albums. One is full length (“The Late Show” reviewed at Disc 1131), plus this one and one other EP, 2014’s “Heights”. “The Late Show” sort of stands on its own, but of the two EPs, this one is the best.

Ratings: 4 stars

Lately I’ve needed a jolt of energy, and the furious and fun debut EP from all-Canadian hard rock band “The Beaches” was exactly the tonic the doctor ordered.

The Beaches are a breath of fresh and ion-charged air dropping lightning bolt rock riffs into songs that have hooks so infectious they make pop songs jealous. While the songs on their eponymous EP have a less polished feel than the Beaches’ more recent releases these are still incredibly catchy songs.

Just as importantly, there is an edge at the core of the Beaches that gives their music heft. These are not pop starlets, these are rock stars. If in 2013 the world didn’t know it yet, you can tell by the way they play that these four women did. More importantly, they have the talent throughout the lineup to back that confidence up.

So what are these songs about? I am often a lyrics guy, but I didn’t care that much on this record; I just enjoyed rocking out. When I did tune in to the words, I heard songs about rebellion, youth and a band with a willingness to see through their own bullshit. It makes for songs that are pure joy on the surface, but have an emotional depth that makes them better on each listen.

All the tracks are good, but I like the heavy thud and rebellious reverb of “Loner.” On the surface the band poses a lot of theories about who they are, including lines like:

“Maybe I'm a stoner, maybe I'm a loner
Maybe I'm cross, maybe I'm lost
Maybe I'm a loser, maybe I'm a keener
Maybe I'm gone”

But what you really take away is not self-loathing, but rather a deeper message that says, “think what you want, jackass – I define myself.” Hmmm…I guess that applies to over-wise bloggers as well. I sure hope it does.

On “Youth Lament” they strip down the production and sing about the enormous weight we feel when we’re young. Everything can be harder then, because you haven’t done it before. It’s a song that simultaneously showcases their own vulnerability, and provides succor for those who need it. The Beaches provide comfort, singing:

“It's only the beginning
The start has just been triggered
The bells they keep on ringing
You're part of a neverending story
Your lines have not been written
One day you'll see the morning
But you're young.”

Hearing these lines I’m not sure if lead singer Jordan Miller is singing them to her audience, or herself – probably a bit of both.

There is the air of Canadian rock royalty about this band. “The Late Show” was produced by Metric front-woman Emily Haines and this EP was produced by “Our Lady Peace” singer Raine Maida. Ordinarily this would offend my iconoclastic sensibilities (I don’t even like “Our Lady Peace”). However I can’t muster any outrage because “The Beaches” are just that good. It is early days, but I expect they could one day be bigger than both their patrons. If they aren’t, then it will just be more proof of the arbitrary nature of fame in the music world. If they are then hey – finally a little justice and fairness in a world that needs more of both.

So I wish these guys well, even as I wait impatiently for what they’re going to do next.

Best tracks: Loner, Boy Wonder, Youth Lament, Kids

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