Thursday, December 26, 2013

Bonfire Beach - Lit

Bonfire Beach
Buddyhead Records

This record was submitted for review by Prime Minister Travis Keller of Buddyhead Holdings Ltd. On first listen, I realized that Bonfire Beach's brand of dreamy electro-pop is as foreign to me as speaking Martian. My natural listening habits are a world away from this music's genesis and origin. Fortunately, the internet exists so it was easy to catch up with this marvelous musical act.

Notice I said act and not band. Rock and roll is a team sport so, theoretically, the band format is necessary for musical success. Plus, rock music's primary aesthetic is heaviness. Lit is heavy but this is not brutal music played by a band. This is something else.

This is the singular musical vision of a sassy lady that is executed flawlessly. Dexy Valentine and her husband Chris Valentine are the songwriting core of alt-pop band MAGIC WANDS. Magic Wands is signed to Bright Antenna Records, home of OMD and THE WOMBATS, so these guys are not chumps.

Already a respected musician in the world of edgy pop, Valentine teamed up with musician Bryan Nope to rework some of her "older, dreamy, goth punk rock material" that she recorded prior to the formation of Magic Wands. The result is Bonfire Beach's debut album Lit.

Valentine created the music for Lit with the history of L.A.'s seedy rock and roll past fresh in her mind. While her own X, THE CRAMPS, and THE DOORS influences are readily apparent, I also hear other sounds in the band's music. I hear MGMT filtered through the lens of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. A case could also be made that Lit is what VERUCA SALT always wished it could sound like but could never pull off.

Which brings us back to this whole band issue. Bonfire Beach performed rock music that is both elegant and powerful. Sure, it's not a full line-up pummeling the audience over the head with riff after riff but no one cares when Trent Reznor writes and records like this. We're not going to get bogged down in semantics and lose sight of what's important.

What's important here is that 2014's first great record has arrived. "Spit U Out" has the potential to be a radio single and I'll take the Vegas odds that Austin's own 101X will be playing "Voices in the Trees (Hollywood Forever)" within the next 12 months. No word on whether or not Bonfire Beach will be playing SXSW. I will certainly let you know if when I hear. In the meantime, listen to Bonfire Beach before they become the next big thing. The East Austin hipsters are going to eat this up.


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