Monday, August 01, 2011

The Boulevard Beat = Power Pop

There’s a really unfair stereotype about power pop bands from southern California being lame and superficial and poser-ish. And although I “get” where it comes from, it’s a really dumb generalization. Good music is good music whether it’s from New York City, the Trans-Siberian Railway, or Paducah, Kentucky. L.A.’s Boulevard Beat is the real deal. These guys don’t have a 16-page press kit chock full of professionally spun superlatives. They don’t sound like Third Eye Blind. If they look “cool”, it’s more in a throwback, Plimsouls sort of way. And even then, that’s not the focus. It’s really about the craft of classic power pop, with a bit of a modern interpretation to make it interesting. I first came to know of this band because friends of mine with 100 percent impeccable taste – like Peter from Jukebox Zeros and Pat from Pelado Records – “liked” them on Facebook. And if you also consider that they’re doing a record with No Front Teeth - one of the best “old school punk” labels in the world – it all adds up to the Boulevard Beat being the opposite of lame and superficial and poser-ish! 

Formed just two years ago, the Boulevard Beat sounds like a band that’s still working out its sound. I kind of like that. They show all the classic hallmarks of power pop – the sing-along choruses, the vocal harmonies, the guitar-driven songwriting aesthetic, etc. But there’s still a nice rawness to the songs. These guys don’t come off polished or “slick”, and I can just sense that they’re really in their element rocking out live. Soon-to-be single “8 Track Breakdown” is their signature tune and a cool one at that. It’s kind of like an old LA power pop sound meets the Replacements’ “Can’t Hardly Wait”. The real hook is a super-catchy lead guitar part that keeps coming back and lodging itself deeper into your head. Heck, all the lead guitar work on this song is killer! All in all, “8 Track Breakdown” is not really a wow-you-off-the-bat type number but rather a subtle grower that really shows a skillful sophistication in the writing department. It’s four minutes long but doesn’t drag – a very good thing in my book! I also really like “Call the Doctor”, which is so raw that it sounds like a demo. Sure, it may not be radio-ready. But it’s really in the right spirit of power pop – fun and catchy but with aggressive, ringing guitars and a loose rock n’ roll feel. Think early Cheap Trick or even mod-era Who! I’m reminded quite a bit as well of a band I used to love back in the late ‘90s called Pat Dull and his Media Whores.

I think you’ll be hearing a lot more from The Boulevard Beat in the coming months. They look to be major up-and-comers in the power pop world, and what’s not to love about that?! EP out soon on No Front Teeth!

- L.R.

1 comment:

Greg said...

Yep. I've been onto these guys for quite sometime now. Looking forward to their debut!