Bedlambs is basically formerly local rock act Treemotel but with vocalist Caitlin Brothers of Luke Carr’s Storming the Beaches with Logos in Hand performing lead singer duties. And though brief, shining moments of Frank Black meets the Strokes meets Magnetic Fields pop up and mesh with punky country-rock from time to time—“Way You’re Made” wouldn’t sound out of place on Doolittle—there's a lack of any real professional mixing/mastering that hinders what might otherwise have been an infectiously poppy album. Bedlambs would be able to stand tall among its obvious influences if Brothers’ voice didn’t come across as self-indulgent or hadn’t been mixed far too loud. Oh sure, the fuzzy guitars and oddly perfect banjo moments do start to approach brilliance in a hillbillygarage-punk kind of way, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that Brothers is far more interested in being a super-interesting indie kook than creating her own niche with what have otherwise proven to be beautiful singing chops.
For his debut album, My Friend Fish, Shaun Fleming—who performs under the moniker Diane Coffee—tapped into his sudden move from child voice actor on the West Coast to newly-minted music fanatic on the East Coast. The whole thing was recorded in two weeks in Fleming’s New York apartment just after a nasty flu and smack-dab in the throes of cabin fever, but where there’s natural talent, there’s a way to lovingly craft surprisingly brilliant songs. Bits were recorded using the iPhone voice memo app; a detuned guitar took the place of the bass; you’ll hear Fleming banging away on a kitchen pot…it’s insane. This is the type of recording that either provides overblown songs loved for the process rather than the results or, in the case of My Friend Fish, surprisingly realized jams that are as clever and hooky as they are classically excellent. Fleming has cited The Beatles and Bill Withers as influences, and by injecting a healthy dose of West Coast, Laurel Canyon-y folk amidst the early sounds of the Fab Four meets the low-down ache of “Ain’t No Sunshine” then elevating both to an almost hyper-pop realm of infectious gospel grooves and off-kilter guitar work, Diane Coffee definitely becomes a dude you wanna know.
Man Hurls Hedgehog: Man Hurls Hedgehog
If you still dream of a time when you could bust out the Member’s Only jacket, check in with your pals at Bayside High and turn on the radio without hearing non-stop terrible pop, Man Hurls Hedgehog feels you. Questioning whether the ’90s were too recent to fuel a throwback record, the duo of Noah Baumeister and Ben Ziegler (who welcome D Numbers’ Paul Feathericci into the fold on drums) wear their influences on their collective sleeve as images of Smashing Pumpkins, Helmet, Jane’s Addiction and even Pavement dance in their heads through 15 hard-rockin’ tracks that touch upon the highs of ’90s alterna-rock while maintaining a contemporarily accessible bent. Quasi-Southern rock moments that delve into Primus-like territory seem a misstep and might have fit in better on a different record, but tracks like “But I Don’t” and “Hedgehog Love” are such standout, punk-ish ass-kickers that it’s hard not to think fondly on the jams of yesteryear while appreciating Man Hurls Hedgehog’s bizarre yet killer take on a genre that has been down but not out—rock
and fucking roll.
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