The Boy from the Crowd – Where the Bees Come to Die

Where The Bees Come to Die

I’ve always found the claim that “rock music is dead” is pretty loaded. The current trend in popular music may have veered into the electronic sphere, but it’s not like the most significant movement in 20th century music just up and left. The ones who really cared in the first place have seldom relied on the radio for their digest, so what’s the big deal? Rock may have seen more illustrious decades, but it’s definitely alive and kicking.

While I wouldn’t normally bother giving an answer to a (hopefully) obvious question like that, I do think the character of rock n’ roll comes central to The Boy from the Crowd. As a veteran critic and listener, I can’t tell you how many other bands have crept into my inbox with a similar claim that they’re “bringing rock n’ roll back to the masses.” I shouldn’t have to clarify that most of these fall clear short of the mark. For so many of these attempts, the ingredients are technically in place, but there lacks the rebellious attitude that made it such a part of counter-culture in the first place. It’s the attitude and welcome ugliness that sets The Boy from the Crowd apart from most others. Even if the five-track Where the Bees Come to Die is precious little to judge the band by, if there’s anything to be gathered from this album, it’s that they truly, sincerely, passionately “get it.”

Where the Bees Come to Die isn’t technically the first release from The Boy in the Crowd (they released a rough version of this EP’s opener “Revelator” a year earlier) but it is the first instance we have a sufficient chunk of material to judge the duo by. Listening to this band, I’m constantly reminded of something the guitarist Vinny Piana has said of rock music: “One of the things that makes rock ’n’ roll great is its little imperfections and riding on the edge of disaster, knowing full well that any second it could all just fall apart.” It’s this wilfully ugly, imperfect approach that gives The Boy from the Crowd their magic. While they come with a solid mix and production, it doesn’t sound like they tried to polish up the sound much in post-pro. The drums sound live, and the guitars are appropriately unhinged for the attitude they’re putting forward. Most striking of all are Vinny Piana’s vocals, which sound like a punk rocker was thrown into a sea of heavy blues and forced to learn to swim. That image should give a solid idea as to the band’s sound.

Punk attitude and blues rock are the respective bread and butter for the style of The Boy from the Crowd, but I was impressed to hear a lot of other sounds referenced. Post-punk is a big draw in “Revelator”, while both versions of “All I Need” narrow down on the punk-blues fusion. Even if “The Road” is the shortest and least memorable of the tracks, it offers new insights by way of grunge and classic hard rock. Topping things off is “Where the Bees Come to Die”, a slow blueser that ends things with a Hendrix-like instrumental jam. The Boy from the Crowd cover more territory on this album than you may first give them credit for. The styles just sound right together.

While none of the rock n’ roll tricks on this EP are of the band’s own invention, it really doesn’t matter in the end. I’m even surprised to admit I don’t think the songwriting is particularly imaginative. The Boy from the Crowd lay a basic framework for rock, and let the magic run from there. The fact they’re able to go so far with a proper attitude really does recall what rock music is originally supposed to be about. I don’t think these guys would appeal to anyone who still needed convincing that rock music is still alive, but they’re shining proof of it nonetheless.

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