The UK's Band Of Bees have had a troublingly confusing go of things here in the US, which is a shame. Forced to change their name from The Bees because of an already existent Tennessee indie group, they lost the buzz that may have accompanied their journey stateside after the release of 04's solid Free The Bees. This month, the group from the Isle of Wight is back with their latest, Octopus.
Already a success in the UK, Octopus is another solid album, which capitalizes on the best of the best from their previous releases and manages to cover a new genre for each leg of the aquatic beast from which the album takes its name. Starting off the album is "Who Knows What The Question Is?" It's a romp and stomping jaunt into the overall good vibes that will follow with the rest of the album. Lead vocalist Paul Butler's thickly accented croon accompanied by the country twang of the first couple of tracks is very reminiscent of Ringo Starr's Beaucoups of Blues (specifically "$15 Draw"). Not saying it's a bad thing, I love that album.
When they finish with their Country Western vibe, they move onto '70s rock with "(This Is For The) Better Days." This is probably one of the main standouts of the album, owing much to Steve Miller Band. In fact, its smooth electric keys and positively harmonious chorus make it feel like a track left off Fly Like An Eagle.
Covering more ground, they turn on the funk with a dash of reggae in "Left Foot Stepdown" and "Got To Go." These are straight up Exploitation tunes. Blaring trumpets and a spicy organ provide the soundtrack to a grainy montage of platform shoes kicking in the chins of mutton-chopped leisure suits and pimp rings slapped across the face of no respect. It's almost surprising that an outfit from the Isle of Wight can get this sound down so well.
As far as favorites go, the highlight for me is the love-tinged "Listening Man." Ghosts of The Righteous Brothers and The Drifters float across the airwaves, sighing the sweet sound of love and devotion on a cool summer night. There might be a little Sam Cooke in there, too.
Band of Bees have definitely got the vintage sound down, and for those that aren't into that but remember the outrageous video to "Chicken Payback," they've got the equally fun/odd track "End Of The Street." I can only hope there's more Japanese arcade dancing to come.