Beaches – She Beats album review



written by
John Hanson

John Hanson aka Johnny Rooftop is a musician and writer based in Boston. John has been focusing on his writing, performing, recording and sound engineering. Follow John on Twitter @johnnyrooftop, or visit john-hanson.com to stay up to date on all his projects.

Beaches, the all girl five piece band from Melbourne Australia, are making waves with She Beats, their follow up to 2008’s self titled debut. Their atmosphic, encompassing sound and an apparent love for layers of floating guitar riffs create a open space which is absolutely wider than the beaches that inspire them to rock. Catchy hooks, nonchalant guitar rock and shoe-gaze glory are enhanced with intricate production by Jack Farley (Beaches) and two key guest spots by German guitar icon Michael Rother. Beaches music tends to spiral outwards from speakers with an effect that leaves listeners awestruck and hypnotized.

Guitars start blazing from the beginning of “Out of Mind.” Here, Beaches present us with a well constructed, yet progressive song which manages to be in your face and laid back at the same time. The psychedelic beach jam continues on the bluesy interlude of “Keep on Breaking Through.” An almost laxidasical vocal delivery sets the mood throughout the experience of She Beats. Lead vocal responsibilities are shared among members, though the words are consistently droned with and innocent yet sunny feeling. The group was formed from casual jam sessions and never expected any real attention, and their lack of an over-bearing ego is apparent.

The songs featuring the famed krautrocker guitarist Michael Rother are “Distance” and “Granite Snake.” The first feature is an infectious firecracker contained by a strange pull created through immense tension of expansive, gritty, reverb laden guitars. On “Granite Snake” Rother’s guitar bleeds through the speakers. The collaboration clearly proves to enhance both the credibility and the psychedelic, progressive, and noise rock accomplishments of She Beats.

There is no lack of worthy and innovative melodies present on the album, both in the vocals and the guitars.  “Send them Away” is a memorable experience in which Beaches suggest we “take those blues and send them away.” The experimentation both in the production and songwriting keeps things soaring throughout each listen. “Dune” rises and falls with sheets of guitar noise as pop-harmonies maintain the tune’s back-bone. Major props to drummer Karla Way for keeping the jam sessions extremely tight, an essential piece of the jam band puzzle (just go ask anyone who has ever jammed). More casual jam-band personality is shared through the feature of an out-of-tune guitar of “Runaway.”

The compelling, unnerving, yet heart-warming mix of She Beats creates an attractive aura that Beaches revel in. Head-nods from progressive and noise rock circles will certainly escalate the probability of more attention, not that Beaches really care. The five girls bring innovation and skill together to create their textured, sundrenched psychedelic progressive rock sound. We should be thankful for this achievement as it is moving these genres along in an interesting way, bridging gaps between jam music and shoegaze as well as alternative and experimental rock; yes, She Beats manages it all.


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