Written by: Paul Gleason
(Photos: Kimmy Drake)
It’s rarity in rock and roll to make such a leap. But, with their second album, Native Echoes, Beach Day have done just this.
Singer-guitarist Kimmy Drake and drummer Skyler Black have made a record that not only improves upon last year’s Trip Trap Attack but also has proved once-and-for-all that they’re one of the most vibrant, intelligent, and surprising bands on the planet.
Native Echoes is that good, that sophisticated.
While retaining the stripped down feel of Trip Trap Attack (Kimmy is a die-hard fan of Ramones and garage rock in general), Native Echoes explores more intricate sounds and textures. But, the thing is, it never loses its raw and intimate feeling.
Kimmy and Skyler used the Ghetto Recorders studio in Detroit and the loads of gear made available to them by Jim Diamond (The Sonics) – Kimmy’s told me about the “organs, amps, guitars,” in particular – to write and record Native Echoes.
This is quite telling. Beach Day aren’t a band to rest easy on the considerable laurels of their first record. They want to challenge themselves just as much as they want to challenge the listener.
But here’s the thing. In challenging their audience, Beach Day create indelible tunes on Native Echoes – tunes that won’t ever leave your mind.
Whereas “All My Friends Were Punks” (which must be played loud) has all the excitement and drive of a Beach Day classic (albeit with a sexier and dirtier feel than earlier tracks), “Don’t Call Me on the Phone” tops it in drive and focus, featuring one of the most creative guitar solos that Kimmy has ever laid down.
Kimmy’s creativity almost bursts through the speakers on “BFF’s.” On this track, her vocal melodies, which convey introspective and melancholic lyrics, come to the fore, with the verse and chorus seemingly topping each other as the song progresses. And the arrangement! Kimmy and Skyler pull off a great key change, and Diamond adds some beautiful feedback. The song is quite simply one of the loveliest and most imaginative things that Beach Day have ever done.
“Pretty” (which features yet another profound lyric: man, Kimmy’s getting better as a lyricist) and “Just Messin’” undoubtedly prove that Beach Day are quickly becoming one of our best guitar bands. “Just Messin’” recalls the great garage rock that Kimmy loves, from Ramones and The Sonics to The Kinks and The Yardbirds.
But “Pretty” is something else. Not only does it feature some of the most introspective lyrics on Native Echoes, but it also showcases Kimmy’s love of sheer noise. The distorted screeches with which the track begins quickly blend into a riff-fest, which features a 12-string played through a Leslie speaker. Beatles anyone?
Skyler shines on “The Lucky One,” which clearly demonstrates that he’s one of the best drummers going. He works with Kimmy to create a driving sound that highlights the drum-vocal interplay.
With “How Do You Sleep at Night,” Beach Day have saved the best for last. Maybe that’s saying too much for a record this good. But, nonetheless, I’ll say it. Kimmy layers harmonies that simultaneously showcase her vocal chops (she’s a tremendous singer) and create a sound of such forlorn despondency and utter beauty that “In My Room” and “Surfer Girl” come to mind.
The tide is rising high for Beach Day. The band is reaching its heights. And, on Native Echoes, Skyler and Kimmy have given us one of the best records of 2014.