Initial Reactions (2012): Beach Boys, Best Coast, Bap Kennedy

Initial Reactions are just that: my reactions to records after only a few listens (usually 2 or 3). I try to be fair, but if a record doesn’t make much of an initial impression on me, someone’s going to need to tell me to pay closer attention if they think it deserves better. (see the sidebar for rating descriptions)

Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made The Radio [A-]: The Boys didn’t enlist Jack White to produce, so there is the cheezed-out sound. But be slaked by those opening harmonies. Enjoy the jingle of "Isn’t It Time." Marvel at the concept of "Bill and Sue." And just relish the fact that these well-advanced pop godfathers crafted a dirge for the closer "Summer’s Gone." TWGMTR isn’t a perfect album by any means, but it more than proves the abundance of greatness that is the Beach Boys. ("The Private Life of Bill and Sue", "Summer’s Gone")

Best Coast – The Only Place [B+]: Didn’t dig on Best Coast’s first album. Something about the "a-melodic drone" of the guitar, but I can safely say that the guitar playing here is jangly, sunny, and sprite-ish. Furthermore, the girl-group harmonies and Spector-ish flourishes realize an altogether lovelier sound. Now despite the presence of a couple of greats, the songs aren’t quite ‘A’ material. But the trajectory is on target, and I’m expecting big things from BCLP3. ("The Only Place", "How They Want Me To Be")

Bap Kennedy – The Sailor’s Revenge [B]: Mark Knopfler‘s production cred garnered my attention, but I’m pleased to report that Bap Kennedy has written a strong set of songs to boot. These are tunes shot through with a gentle sea, making TSR a reflective bookend to Fisherman’s Blues. Like any sea voyage, though it starts out full of promise, by the end it’s worn on you a bit, but all in all, you’ll keeping coming back for nothing more than the song of the sea away on that horizon. ("Shimnavale", "Jimmy Sanchez")

Advertisements

Quick Review (LP): Crazy for You by Best Coast

Best Coast
Crazy for You LP
Mexican Summer; 2010

My Rating: B-

Best Tracks: “Boyfriend”, “Crazy for You”

I know that everyone likes this record, so first things first. The singer has a very strong rock and roll voice, and Best Coast makes use of it to maximum effect. That fact alone is enough to set this record apart from the pack. However, I’m not so fond of the guitar sound. Once you get beyond the outstanding opener “Boyfriend,” there are only a handful of tracks solid enough to get beyond the a-melodic drone of the guitar. I predict this will make many best of lists this year, and be forgotten in years to come. FFO: Beach House, Real Estate, Puro Instinct, Wavves.

Pitchfork review
Myspace site
Blog

Quick Review (EP): Something About the Chaparrals by Pearl Harbour (now Puro Instinct)

Something About the ChaparralsPearl Harbor (aka Puro Instinct)
Something About the Chaparrals EP
Mexican Summer; 2009

My Rating: B

I like these gals; they’ve got a great sense of humor and a funny blog. They use incredibly awesome hyper-slang like “Wuz gawn,” and say that they have things “4 U.” This was their first EP-length release, and it’s halfway superlative. “Sunburn” and “Luv Goon” are phenomenal, but the last two drown in a sunny monsoon of sound. The guitar player is like 14 years old and comes up with great licks now, which means that she has plenty of radical ahead of her. Hope they do something magical on their first full-length still to come. For now, stick with the first half of this record. RiYL: Best Coast, Beach House, Asobi Seksu, leotards and sweatbands.

Listen to “Luv Goon” and buy here
Sample all tracks here
Blog here
Myspace here

Quick Review: Puro Instinct 12″EP by Puro Instinct

s/t Cover ArtPuro Instinct was known as Pearl Harbor until only a few months ago, and under that name they released an excellent 4-songer, Something About The Chaparrals, in 2009. After hearing that release, I was pretty excited for further output from these gals, but this offering misses the mark. It sounds a lot like the current flavor of the day in indie – hazy vocals, echoing lazy day guitars, and mechanical drums – and there is nothing wrong with that whatsoever. The big problem is that the songs just aren’t up to par; the tracks sound like the toss-offs from the Chaparrals session. Hopefully this is an attempt to clear the decks for a new set of songs and a full-length, but sadly there isn’t much to be recommended here.

Rating: C.

FFO: Real Estate, Best Coast, Still Corners.

Pitchfork track review
Hear the EP
Band’s Myspace site