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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
A Band of Bees
Free the Bees
Astralwerks

Rating: 8/10 ?


October 21, 2005
Remember those Freedom Rock music compilations that were sold on TV ten or fifteen years ago? They had two hippies who looked like Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda in Easy Rider, hocking a music compilation put together by some record company in an effort to profit off the sounds of the 60s. The commercial ended with one of the dirty dudes asking the other if he was listening to "Freedom Rock" and to "Turn it up!" It was nothing but a stupid attempt to poke fun of the 60s while promoting the music of that era.

A Band of Bees reminds me of that commercial because they take the sounds of the Kinks, Steppenwolf and the Yardbirds and smash 'em together into one heck of a modern day throwback. Using only 12 tracks of the available 40(?) from Abbey Road Studios, they were purposely looking to create a specific sound; what came out of the sessions is not only spot-on, but innovative and creative as well. These guys seem to know how to use their influences, and they've come together to release one heck of a powerful album.

This band is a great example of what rock and roll should be about. They each member of A Band of Bees seems to be on the same page, working together to create enjoyable music. There's nothing too fancy and nothing too dull; all the territory on this record is well-worn. The sounds are instantly recognizable, as A Band of Bees are practically shaking the hands of those who've influenced them.

The album is kicked off with "These Are the Ghosts"; it sounds like the Byrds' "Turn Turn Turn" and gives the mission statement of the band: "I need twice as much space and half as many things/A well-written verse that I can sing." It sets the stage perfectly for an album so believable and unbelievable.

"Chicken Payback" is like a 2005 version of "Land of a Thousand Dances"; its horns and two-step beat pulse under a crowd shouting the names of various animals in sync. Instead of the new dance steps, the singer is giving props to certain animals for no specific reason. Pay the donkey back indeed: it's unabashedly fun without sounding cheap or cynical.

There is a five and a half minute instrumental track in the middle of this album that seems to be the most modern piece of work in this collection of 14 songs. "The Russian" has a tiny Santana-like influence, as it could workably be the theme song for a 70s cop show. The track builds to a great slowing down point (the time where you can see the cop car pulling up to the stakeout) with a great horn section playing perfect notes - watch out, Kojak - but then leads right into the weakest song on the album: the slow jam, "I Love You". A soulful attempt at a ballad doesn't quite hit the right buttons. It's a good attempt to change the pace, but it certainly is not their strength.

Things pick up again with the bluesy-build of the song "Hourglass": a great (though repetitive) piano riff underscores the tambourine-heavy percussion, giving the spotlight to the drummer. By the time a clarinet comes in for the big climax you can see the multi-instrumentalists of the band giving all they got - and succeeding.

Anyone who is a fan of nostalgia but hates all the specificities and nit-picking should rush to grab this album; quite an unbelievable sound was created on Free the Bees, and was only made through great appreciation of the past without giving in to modern technology.

Reviewed by Bob Ladewig
Having been introduced to good music by his sister in the early years, Bob Ladewig has been searching out all the best in indie music ever since. He also rides a skateboard and performs/directs comedy shows and, like all great men, he\'s afraid of really growing up.

See other reviews by Bob Ladewig

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