Bethpage Black-Black Music EP
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: March 3, 2012
They call themselves a ‘sickle-pop’ band, the first song on their EP is called ‘Lipstick Colony’, they list Kelly Clarkson as an influence on Facebook, they’re named after the hardest course on a Long Island golf course... Okay, forget the last one, but the signs are already somewhat worrying. This is Bethpage Black from Long Beach, CA (stop thinking about whatever band you’re thinking about now... unless it happens to be Bethpage Black. In that case, continue) and today we are listening to their new EP, the spectacularly named, Black Music. Bethpage Black are, of course, the world’s first (and only) ‘sickle-pop’ band and are made up of Matt Carmichael (vocals), Davin Givhan (guitar), Vivien Larena (bass) and Steve Coy (drums). Never one to judge (said as a reviewer), I’ll put away my preconceptions and go into with open ears.
What do I encounter? Well, the EP kicks off with ‘Lipstick Colony’. Shredding? Check. Synthesizers? Scathing, overconfident lyrics? Check. Can I have my preconceptions back? Maybe not just yet. Yes, it’s cheesy, unoriginal, and lacking any character, but it is catchy as hell, and it does the job that every pop song strives to. The chorus is quite irresistible and certainly carves a home for itself in the memory. ‘Make Sure It Hurts’ is a huge improvement. Still ridiculously catchy, it’s more of a straight up pop-rock song, Carmichael’s vocals are quite flawless and it ends with a good old-fashioned scream, which is always welcome.
'I’ve Got Friends' is acoustic and quite the opposite of the opener. Lyrically it’s quite depressing, in a vaguely endearing way, Carmichael’s vocals are strong again, and it’s the best track on the release. ‘Losing My Nerve’ is the main single off the EP. I very rarely use the word awesome in a review, but the starting combination of piano and riff, is quite awesome. Succeeding where the opener failed, ‘Losing My Nerve’ is filled with confidence and is deliciously bombastic. The lyrics aren’t quite poetry (the narrator’s loved one is apparently ‘as perfect as a cellar door’), but they do the job in catchiness. The last track is a remix of the aforementioned ‘Make Sure It Hurts’ and is basically needless, and should probably just be ignored.
So, all-in-all, Black Music is never going to win any awards for innovation, however it is a stellar release. Indeed, the opener and close were fairly bad, but the middle three tracks are well worth multiple listens, and are a sign of good things to come from Bethpage Black.