Welcome to the debut of Beat Blvd., Heard Mentality's new weekly review of local releases. If you're an OC musician or band with something new to offer--vinyl single, full length album, CD, cassette--we want to hear from you! Send copies, along with any photos and PR material, to Beat Blvd., c/o OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Suite 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.
Free Lions EP
Huntington Beach sextet Free Lions are out for a bit of melodrama on their self-titled debut--and this is not a complaint. Any number of recent bands across the country have aimed for the suddenly epic in recent years, and it's been a nice contrast to all the politely scrubbed demi-power pop that gets labelled "indie rock" a lot of the time.
Free Lions look for this as well, so this five-song release is less strikingly new than it is a good starting point. It's well-recorded and performed throughout. The band's ace in the hole might be a sense of restraint as needed, with opening song "It's OK" beginning with a measured atmosphere in music and singing that could almost be a lost song by underrated Seattle legends the Walkabouts.
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Pianist Emily (first name only, like the rest of the band) often provides the core of each song's performance, shifting on a dime from gentle vocal-only accompaniment to full-band pounding on "Never Go Shopping," while the blend of singers Shayne and Jocelyn's voices, while working well enough on the louder moments, feels all the stronger when the band strips down the performance to a close, intimate level. (Also, nice touch on the concluding "Georgia" by having the classic Ronettes "Be My Baby" drumbeat appear midway through the song instead of starting it.)