Thursday, December 1, 2011

The SHE's, Lil B


Then It Starts To Feel like Summer

* * * *


It’s been over two years since the SHE’s released their self-titled debut EP, and unlike the vast majority of seemingly even more promising teenage bands I covered during SF Rebirth’s early years, they’ve remained together long enough for their sound to grow. Their debut full-length, Then It Starts To Feel Like Summer, has all the attributes of their early recordings--unabashed poppiness, garagey but fuzz-free guitars, simple lyrics that are at least a third nonsense vowel sounds, and, of course, those harmonies. Their production values have skyrocketed, and their chops have improved immensely as well, but they have not exactly “matured”--these songs could have easily been written for either of their previous two EPs, but they sound so much better, and there isn’t a bad song in the set either. The band’s best pre-Summer song, “Kids Of Rock,” finds its place here; live favorite “Hey Boy” is finally recorded; and there is a little tune called “Fabian” that is the perfect distillation of everything great about the SHE’s--lovesick lyrics, rolling guitars, beach references that manage not to bring to mind last year’s slightly annoying surf-pop trend, and awesome vocal harmonies. With this combination of influences from girl-group music, beach pop (both classic and contemporary), and garage punk, Summer should be so trendy as to be irritating. But the SHE’s are not an “indie rock” band but a pop band, and the best kind of pop band as well--one that writes timeless songs to go with timeless hooks.


BasedGod Velli/The Silent President

* * * 1/2 / * *

Well, Lil B has released yet another new mixtape, and it’s called, um, BasedGod Velli. The title says pretty much everything about Lil B--not that the new mixtape has anything to do with Makaveli or even Flockaveli, just that it willfully makes absolutely no sense and doesn’t even bother to flow. BasedGod Velli falls into the category of “serious positive” Lil B, much as his unexpectedly brilliant I’m Gay mixtape did (I refuse to refer to it as I’m Gay [I’m Happy], much as I refuse to refer to the Sears Tower as the Willis Tower). It has the half-coherent yet surprisingly powerful rants (the civil rights meditation “King Cotton”), a soon-to-be-controversial anchor track (“I Got Aids”), the why-is-this-so-beautiful piano ballad (“Let Shit Slide”) and a bunch of really good beats. While “King Cotton” certainly achieves the level of outsider-rap glory that made I’m Gay one of the year’s most interesting and bizarre listens, the rest of the album works primarily on the strength of its production, and “I Got Aids” fails nobly but hilariously. The Silent President is nothing special, containing a song called “Beat the Cancer” that’s almost as ridiculous as “I Got Aids” but otherwise containing pedestrian beats and unremarkable ranting.

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