Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Bees and the Birds-Our Neighborhood Records

June 1, 2007

birdsandthebeesBees and the BirdsS/t EP

Our Neighborhood Records

Passionate, straightforward, and immeasurably catchy, this indie-pop EP makes a huge impression.

Nuance and restraint are sorely overrated in this point in musical history. Being introspective is great, but you don’t have to sound like you’re underwater to do it. Sufjan is amazing, but we’re not all as talented as Sufjan. What I’m sayin’ here is that sometimes a little bit of forthrightness makes a lot more sense than a great deal of introspective babble.

That is certainly the case with Bees and the Birds. On their 3-song self-titled EP, they don’t waste any time, making the most of their 7:43 that they have your attention. There is no trace of pretentious songwriting here, as the acoustic guitars brightly jangle, the drums energetically deliver the goods, the moving bass lines add more energy, the banjo (!) adds even more glee, and the brash male and female vocals just pop out of the speakers. It’s loud, it’s pop, and it’s absolutely wonderful. There’s a touch of country vibe throughout their sound, as harmonica and banjo populate the sound, the bass lines occasionally adopt the bouncy country style, and the drums are snare heavy and occasionally galloping. But the sound gives way to the vocal melodies, which are bright, crisp and in-your-face. Some melodies are catchy, but these songs are a whole other level of catchy. This is the ultimate feel-good music. I can’t think of any band that is more passionately pop than Bees and the Birds – they cram more hooks and pop glee into just under 8 minutes than any band I’ve ever heard. They even manage to make a sad song with introspective lyrics, but deliver it in a no-nonsense, no-whining mood. They just sing it – and the brave, brash sound with which they deliver the sound only lends credence to the song’s point: I’m depressed that you’re gone but I’m living anyway. It’s one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long time, because it doesn’t rely on mood or atmosphere to make its point – it relies on solid songwriting, both instrumentally and vocally.

I really, really want to hear a Bees and the Birds full-length – this EP is definitely the best three-song teaser I have ever heard. No joke. And it’s all because they don’t beat around the bush – they get to the heart of the matter and deliver the goods. Hooks, attitude, more fun than I know what to do with, and solid songwriting? It doesn’t get better than that.

-Stephen Carradini

Stephen@independentclauses.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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