Sick Bees – My Pleasure

Sick Bees
My Pleasure

Starla and Julio are the Sick Bees. Starla is from Austin, TX (I hear that place is alive with music), and Julio is from Rockford and played “clarinet in a marching band.”

Okay, looking at the two above descriptions, one would surmise that Starla is the cool one and Julio is some ex-marching band geek who enjoyed blowing into his clarinet in between “Go Team!” cheers from the high school pride crowd. But, what one discovers is that the “geek” rocks. His singing carries the album (at least I think that’s him – you see, Up Records only sends you a CD in a paper holder with the names of the songs on it and a one page promotions page with lines like “you will be emotionally wrung out after one listen” – who writes this stuff!? – so, it is hard to say who sings what). Without a doubt, however, Starla is the chick who blasts in and out of songs vocally with her heavy-metal-Lita-Ford screech that sends me back into the lates 80s in a horrible flash. Yet, this album has endearing moments that really do turn you up. At times, the Sick Bees provide a “sloppy” blend of Built to Spill, Sonic Youth, and a smidgen of Jesus Lizard. It is an odd blend, but works during certain moments on this CD: Song 2, “Saint Helen’s,” starts out with a guitar spank-strum you won’t soon forget. It is very energizing and yet hints at some lurking evil. The whole song has some evil overtones, and Starla’s vocals here (I think its her) are actually gripping. Short, choppy announcements that impact the ear. “Strawhat’s Dogs,” continues to impress with a gentle beginning and a whispering rush of chords during the chorus.

But, just when you think this could be a really great album, there are only a couple of real good ones left: “Mike” and “Pretty is as Pretty does.” These songs incorporate some real experimentation and interesting chord changes. The same cannot be said for the rest of the album, which gets mired and bogged down in experiments that didn’t quite pan out and twisted, off-chord, plod-alongers. Other songs like “Tool Room” are just plain awful – especially with Starla’s incessant Lita-Ford wailing and screeching. Even the distortion pedal employed on this song sounds like they may have called in Iron Maiden in too play the instruments.

So, it all amounts to an average album, held up by four really good songs that are surrounded by musical misfits and accidental suicides. I would almost say that “Saint Helen’s” is such a great song that it warrants the purchase of the album. Instead, I think I’ll recommend borrowing it from your favorite reviewer or Up Records fanatic.