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December 2014
The Spirit of the Beehive
"The Spirit of the Beehive
"
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There is something rather dark and mysterious about a band that takes its name from a classic Spanish film that focuses on its protagonist, a young girl, who becomes fascinated by the 1931 horror movie, Frankenstein. And with an album cover that portrays a child in a bee costume positioned in front of a tombstone saying, “Here Lies Mom-n-Dad Now Their Gone Isn’t That Sad,” you can’t help but be intrigued, if not a bit disturbed. The Spirit of the Beehive is a local fledgling outfit who has popped up on my radar this past year, appearing on numerous bills, oftentimes at DIY spaces. The band has further grabbed my attention with its debut self-titled full-length album, which was recorded by The Weaks/ex-Dangerous Ponies, Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo, and released via rising Philly indie label Ranch Records.  
 
The record’s opening track, “Roll Over,” begins with an eerie instrumentation before a languid female voice comes in with barely intelligible lines. “Cycles in and out of morphine hazes. Finding spaces between your floorboards. And I watch the dust move.” Thankfully the group provides us with lyrics on its Bandcamp page; otherwise, the beautifully poetic verses filled with drug-fueled imagery would be lost in the wash of power chords and feedback. “All lost in the black market. To wait in the fix aisle, I roll over.” You also get a sense of the band’s lo-fi, DIY aesthetic when you are abruptly taken out of the world, created by the album’s first, with studio chatter before moving on to the next track. With “Short Walk,” you can’t help but feel the influences of greats like Nirvana and more recently Creepoid with the hushed vocals and sonic bursts. These two tracks set the tone for the first half of the LP, where you travel in and out of the territories of dream pop and shoegaze when the female lead vocals grab a hold of you and then the grungier, harder-edged side takes over with the male lead. This juxtaposition provides quite an enjoyable balance that I actually wished went on longer throughout the record.
 
It’s not until “Ether,” where the two combine forces, changing the dynamic of their relationship. The title of the song suggests that you might be finding something more ethereal; however, the driving bass line provides a sense of urgency throughout the track. It also marks the point where the male lead begins to dominate the rest of the album, while taking on some of the characteristics of its counterpart. What remains a constant is a psychedelic, drug-filled angst full of guitar licks and distortion, giving off the vibe of a band that is here to rock, and they don’t care if you are ready for it or not.
 
The Spirit of the Beehive closes out their ambitious LP with the longest and cleanest sounding recording on the album, “Fever Dream,” demonstrating that they don’t need to hide behind studio effects, while making you wonder where their follow-up release will go next. It’s an eclectic and modern sounding record that also pulls from past genres I hold close to my chest. I highly recommend that you go download it ASAP. - Q.D. Tran

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The Deli Philly’s April Album of the Month: Dope Boy Magick - PO PO

The Deli Philly’s April Album of the Month: Dope Boy Magick - PO PO

The fuzz is strong with this one.

PO PO’s Dope Boy Magick sounds as if it’s being transmitted through a cloud. The debut full-length of once brother trio-turned-solo project of lone remaining bro Zeb Malik is a collage of outcast-rock past, with influences culled from goth, punk, and even witch house, but as its grungy bass crunch and oodles of reverb blur the borders between styles, the record becomes a sort of “Variations on Alienation for Drum Machine and Distorted Guitar."

I swear this is a good thing. For one, the murky hiss covering each track makes the jumps between creeping electro and squalling garage seamless, not to mention exciting. Malik is an expert appropriator, casually flipping between riff-heavy acid sludge (“Dnt Wnt U, Jst Wnt It All”), raucous surf (“Bummer Summer”), and pristine electro bliss (the phenomenal “Let’s Get Away”), making the record lively and unpredictable, like a mixtape for the counterculture.

It’s also mesmerizing; the reverb on these tracks distorts Malik’s whine to the point where he’s not communicating in words but in a wash of vowel sounds, and the dejection he’s able to convey with a sigh recalls the perpetual disaffection of Bradford Cox. Like Cox, Malik is able to settle comfortably over a noise record’s various faces, flying over Magick’s more interactive first half and becoming another texture on its subtler but-no-less excellent second. He almost disappears in the hypnotic rhythms of the final four tracks, adding the haunting echoes in “Sik Sik Sik” and becoming a droning hook for “POPONGZU.” This section ends the record on a baffling but tantalizing note. These tracks are some of the album’s most realized, and when “Teen Dreamz” slyly slinks away, it feels like a fitting end to such an elusive record.

I say elusive because Dope Boy Magick keeps its audience at a distance. There’s a tangible apathy here. On “Dnt Wnt U, Jst, Wnt It All,” Malik sings, “I fuckin’ love you,” but he doesn’t sound like he’s going to do anything about it. He’s not interested in action. His record’s bare-bones, catch-all ethos encourages thoughtful, meditative listening, and all that haze he provides seems to lend itself to smoky, dimly lit rooms where everyone’s on too many substances to do anything but gaze blankly and bop along. My advice? “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” You can purchase Dope Boy Magick via Mad Decent. - Adam Downer

PO PO - "Teen Dreamz / Let's Get Away" from stereogum

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