Monday, March 02, 2009

Which Bitch? review

If, like me, you think of a revolting show starring a gaggle of physically and mentally ugly women when you hear the name “The View”, you’re in for a treat. This band has nothing to do with that show or those women. In fact, they’re about as far away as they can get. Instead of being pampered, old New York socialites, these guys are young, rowdy Scots. Instead of of spouting off misinformed opinions about things they don’t really understand, these guys write songs about what they personally know. And instead of kvetching about what other people are doing, these guys go out and do it. Their way. Which doesn’t always jive with what other people want. You know what? Fuck other people. These guys know what they’re doing.

The View started out simply enough as a group of Scottish teenagers who wanted to play some music, mostly covers. A funny thing happened though: they got good. After playing only two shows they signed a record deal. Their first album, Hats Off to Buskers, shot straight to #1 in the UK. They went from unknowns to stars literally overnight, meaning the pressure to put out a second album that didn’t suck was enormous. Could a bunch of kids manage to avoid the sophomore slump that’s consumed so many other bands?

Yep. The follow-up, Which Bitch?, delivers on the kids’ promise. Perhaps they avoided the second-album trap because they didn’t spend years writing the songs that ended up on their debut. Or perhaps they’re just good songwriters. Whatever the reason, Which Bitch? doesn’t disappoint. It’s full of energy, punk flavor, orchestral touches, and most of all, attitude.

The attitude doesn’t only apply to the music. This is a band that’s embracing classic rock behavior. They were banned from the pub where they started when the lead singer drove a scooter through the bar. They’re not allowed to stay at any Travelodge hotel in the UK after they caused over $13,000 to a room in Liverpool. The lead singer super-glued a witch hat to his head during the recording of Which Bitch?. If you like these guys you may want to listen up; they might not be around long.

“5 Rebeccas”
The first single from Which Bitch?, “5 Rebeccas” is a well-crafted punk/pop song. Not grating or aggressive enough to be true punk, it’s still more than pop.

“Glass Smash”
Ignore the ludicrous faux-Gregorian chant intro, this song really starts at about the 10-second mark. Once it gets going it sounds a bit like Mussorgsky interpreted by the Arctic Monkeys. Meaning it’s a bold minor-key composition, brashly performed. Or it’s just a good pop song. Take your pick.

By Sean Stansell, Pop Culture, 2nd March 2009


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