Friday, June 22, 2012

New Inq, A B & the Sea

* * * 1/2
“Z?” sounds like the Strokes spread over a piece of bread, or a teenage Bloc Party if they had smoked weed and watched monster movies, or a brick wall in New York with a mural of a Hindu deity.  It’s a post-punk pop song given room to stretch out, occasionally threatening to fade into oblivion but keeping the listener hooked with catchy riff after catchy riffs.  The song’s chief flaw is that its formlessness is easy to get lost in, and it’s more satisfying as a concentrated listen than as background noise, but it effectively captures the essence of The Inq’s sprawling yet energetic live jams.  A promising introduction to one of the Bay Area’s most promising young bands.
Constant Vacation
* * * 1/2
I should give AB & the Sea credit for being possibly the first “indie rock” band to incorporate David Guetta into their sound.  On their debut album, Constant Vacation, the SF band mix Top 40 synths and dancey beats with the sort of beachy indie-pop that was all over the blogs about two years ago.  The result isn’t far from what one might expect--these are summer anthems all the way, each one seemingly custom designed to soundtrack your next trip to the ocean.  What’s not expected is how well this musical formula works.  This isn’t some sort of novelty Katy Perry-meets-Best Coast record; it’s actually a pretty decent pop record.  But like most pop records, Constant Vacation succeeds on the basis of its individual songs (“Bad Girl,” “In The Sunshine,” and the title track are my faves), and an entire album of this sort of music can be a bit exhausting.  Taken track by track, Constant Vacation is a treat, a neat collection of sunshiney pop tunes just in time for summer.

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