Boy from the Crowd are a London-based blues/rock/punk duo, and Where the bees come to die is their thunderous debut into a musical landscape woefully deprived of their genre.
I’ll start by talking about the guys themselves. Vocalist/guitarist Vinny Piana and drummer Vegas Ivy are hilariously un-punk; they’re actually kinda lame, in the best way possible. They laugh openly and make corny jokes in their Facebook video describing the fundraising campaign for this album, and their bio is twee and, frankly, adorable: “Boy From The Crowd Cocktail: take a pinch of Delta blues, mix with some edgy surf rock, shake (don’t stir) with a hefty dose of punk attitude and some good old-fashioned rock n roll swagger. Infuse with tension, blend with menace and you're starting to get a flavour of the rich and potent firewater served up by Boy From The Crowd.”
Aw, guys. Bless.
It’s awesome in the same way Dave Grohl is awesome: he’s the coolest rock star in America, but simultaneously takes his daughters to school and makes dumb jokes and is ultimately kind.
And, in the same way that no one would care that Dave Grohl is the nicest motherfucker if his music sucked, Boy from the Crowd elicit ultimate respect for the sheer energy and power of their music. Their niceness is just a little bonus.
Piana’s punk screech compliments his dirty, gritty, pseudosexual blues guitar wails perfectly. Ivy’s drumming is appropriately humble, and he refrains from opportunities for flashy fills, but he provides consistent energy for the songs.
All the songs on Where the bees come to die struck a chord deep in my inner adolescent, and reminded me of my constant search for an empathetically angst-riddled singer when I was a teenager. Some of Piana’s screams on this album would have made me very very happy. They still do now, but for additional reasons.
Firstly, it takes balls to be an unabashedly straightforward rock band these days, and I’ve oft touted analogous testicularity in my other reviews. But deeper than that, Boy from the Crowd have seamlessly blended rock, punk and blues, and yes, I know that all of those genres have many factors in common, but you’d be surprised how often bands lean to one of the three. Not this one. Listen to the call-and-response blues guitar riffs in “Revelator,” and then switch your attention back to Piana’s voice, raw and unashamed and screaming his god damn heart out. Continue your auditory journey throughout the rest of the standout album to the final song, the instrumental title track. It’s simple, unpretentious rock, with deliciously sudden bursts of volume, a surprising southern rock organ, and Hendrix guitar riffs.
Piana’s lyrics aren’t anything to write home about, but they fit his songs well and nothing really grabbed my attention negatively. This kind of music doesn’t necessitate Dylan composition or Fleet Foxes metaphor, and for that reason I didn’t find myself bereft of lyrical inspiration. In fact, intellectual paucity is almost preferable in cases like this.
My favourite track is the full version of “All You Need,” not the radio mix – it has more solos, more screams, and more guts. It really is all you need.
Tell me when the full length is out. Tell me when this band is playing near me. Tell me when they get their due recognition.
2. All I Need
3. The Road
4. All I Need (Single Edit)
5. Where The Bees Come To Die