Friday, July 20, 2012

Beach Fossils- Beach Fossils

As we become older, I'd like to think our tastes mature. Sure, I may still get a laugh or three out of Dumb & Dumber or Billy Madison, but most of the time I gravitate toward more thought provoking and, I guess, intellectual fare. At the same time, paradoxically, I think as we get older we end up wanting more and more of the things we love and are less inclined to give a chance to entirely new experiences. As a high schooler, I felt like my musical journey would last the rest of my life. Now, 10 years later, I feel like I'm on a plateau, resting during a smoke break.

I've been taking an extended hiatus from Whiskey Pie, you may have noticed, and took that time to listen to music without thinking of it in terms of whether I would write about it and what I would say. It was a return to that high school era of open discovery, come to think of it, though in this case it was less about reading reviews than it was blindly downloading interesting looking stuff from this blog, Shoegazer Alive 5b. Discovery, yes...pure musical discovery; no thought given to something beyond whether I liked it or not.

"Liked" is crucial to me because when I like something, I stick with it, and keep returning to it, even if I never feel anything particularly strong about it. Often I come to love something out of bloody minded repetition, and Beach Fossils is definitely one of those cases. I've been listening to them off and on since the Fall and woke up a few days ago realizing I was addicted to their stuff. There are so many bands I would have given up on right off the bat if I had a deadline looming and needed to write a review that day and thus didn't have time to let it grow on me. Beach Fossils, and their self titled debut more specifically, grew on me. Like an addiction.

Anyway, getting back to the opening...

I currently find myself in a period where all I want to do is listen to retro influenced indie rock bands, whether it's more psychedelic leaning ones like Woods and The Black Angels or more jangle-pop influenced ones like Real Estate and Twerps. Beach Fossils split the difference by being both vaguely psychedelic and vaguely jangle-y, with a distinct 60s surf influence. Meaning what, exactly? Well, lots of reverb, lots of tap-able and/or clap-able rhythms, lots of melodic bass lines, lots of tom-toms and lo-fi drum machines (at least that's what it sounds like on 'Golden Age') , catchy but not cloying hooks, and a hazy sense of semi-stoned, nostalgic satisfaction. Or sardonic, feigned indifference, depending on the song.

Beach Fossils is a solid 4 out of 5, B-level record. Yet I'm not giving out scores anymore and here's a good example why; this is the sort that I could easily see a lot of people, like I did, keeping it around on the floor by the record player, listening to it here or there until it goes from an interesting listen to an obligatory listen, the kind you can't seem to get out of your head for days, if not weeks, on end. Scores are too definitive for so changeable a feeling as how much I like something. Right now, to me, Beach Fossils is at least as good as Rubber Soul. It is an album full of songs as much as it is atmospheres, the sort of headspace you want to re-visit. These are songs and atmospheres, yes, evoking faded memories of Summer vacations spent on humid porches and air conditioned living room carpets, playing whatever the current Nintendo console was or talking about girls (or boys) you were going to ask out that year. It's modern and yet nostalgic, inessential and yet indispensable.

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