Wednesday, June 15, 2011

AB & the Sees' Army


Don’t Be A Dick

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Upon listening to Green Day’s early work, it’s easy to see why such a band might explode and veer off into more musically eclectic territory--their pop chops are obvious, and their apathy about trying to be aesthetically "punk" seems to work to their advantage. However, the Billie Joe Armstrong-produced debut by teen East Bay pop-punk band Emily’s Army (which also happens to feature Armstrong’s son Joey on drums) gives the future fairly little thought and seems content to stay in its two-minute, three-chord wonderworld. Don’t Be A Dick comes across like an album from the days when punk bands had to make records--none of the songs stand out or are particularly unique, but the formula works great to sustain the album. It’s a good pop-punk record, and it doesn’t try to be anything more--which comes as a great relief in an era in which taking oneself much too seriously is the norm.



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Most musicians only wish they could go this crazy without sounding like shit, alienating their audience, or any of those unfortunate consequences. Castlemania, roughly the 238,402,395th release by Thee Oh Sees, is basically 40 minutes of mainman John Dwyer going absolutely apeshit, and it sounds fantastic. Telephone-booth distortion, Dwyer’s Peter Griffin-meets-Johnny Rotten vocals, and what sounds like a chimpanzee being strangled in the background are the dominant sounds on this record. Yet what makes Castlemania so interesting and engaging is that Dwyer generally sounds like he’s having a blast and not giving a shit about impressing the hipsters or the critics or any of those other sticks-in-the-mud. And in the end, that’s what garage rock has always been about. (Oh yeah, and there’s a song called “Idea for Rubber Dog”).


“In The Sunshine”

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It’s the beginning of summer, so what better way to kick it off than a new AB & the Sea song? The most instantly noticeable thing about “In The Sunshine” is just how much it sounds like a Top 40 hit--the whoosh-enhanced dance-pop beat, the earworm chorus, and the steadily climbing outro wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dr. Luke production. Is this AB & the Sea’s much-needed California Gurl moment? We’re willing to bet that it is, and if it doesn’t melt your Popsicle, you must have kept it in the freezer for way too long.

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