I was delirious with joy when I first heard The Beaches’ “Money” on Toronto’s Indie88. First, because it’s an amazing song. Second, because there’s not enough crunchy guitar rock coming from young bands. And third, because there aren’t enough female voices in rock – especially kickass garage-y power-chord-driven rock.
Maybe The Beaches (Jordan Miller thumping and wailing on bass and lead vocals, sister Kylie Miller shredding on lead guitar, Eliza Enman McDaniel spanking the drums, and Leandra Earl laying down keyboards and rhythm guitar) will usher in a new era of women in rock that will stick around a lot longer (like, forever) than the all-too-short mid-90s era of Juliana Hatfield, Liz Phair, PJ Harvey and company.
Hearing “Money” gave me no choice but to buy their debut album, Late Show. Here are eight reasons why I love every second of it:
- This is a debut album?: Like, seriously. I know they released a couple EPs before this, and I haven’t had a chance to listen to those yet, but it just seems like they emerged from the musical womb as fully-formed rock goddesses.
- “Highway 6”: The title alone conjures fond memories of our annual (often multi-annual) trip up Highway 6 to Sauble Beach. It’s a leisurely, often contemplative trip through rural Ontario, passing loads of farmland, the occasional small town, a giant Muskoka chair and my favourite: a little stone building in the middle of farm country that houses a computer store. The actual highway aside, I love so much about this, the quietest, slowest-tempo song on the album. I love the sparse drums, muted guitar, droning keys and falsetto vocals, which somehow remind me of a quiet winter’s night with the soft glow of streetlights. I love how high and impassioned Jordan’s voice gets in the last minute or so. I love the bass-y keyboard part we’re treated to just for a few bars at the end.
- Big, bad bottom: Yeah, I’m a guitar guy, but above all I’m a music guy and when something’s good, it’s good. You don’t get enough emphasis on bass guitar in rock songs. Maybe it helps that their front woman is also their bass player, but The Beaches often bring that big, bad bass right up front and it rumbles right through me and it’s a beautiful thing.
- “Money”: I need to make money, too, so I can relate. Can’t we all? Dolla’ bills aside, y’all, this is the lead single for a reason. It’s the best song on the album. It’s the song that made me fall in love with this band. Jordan’s wonderfully disinterested, deep-voiced vocals in the verse remind me a little of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas. (Kylie’s guitar riffs on this one are also very Strokesian.) Then she goes high to belt out that chorus that’s such a simple, syrupy-sweet earworm. “Woo!” It’s all about the “woo!” One night I was having trouble getting to sleep and that chorus wouldn’t stop playing in my head. It didn’t help with the getting-to-sleep thing, but I love it anyway.
- Did I say “syrupy-sweet earworm?”: I did. And that’s the thing about this whole album. Song. Is. Awesome. It’s filled with the most spectacular hooks. Like, every song. How do you write 12 songs for one album that dig deep into your brain like that? That’s a gift. It’s the best kind of power pop: it has delicious Top 40 hooks, but tons of rock-and-roll edge to balance it out.
- “Itty, bitty, titty committee”: And they have a sense of humour. (This is a line from “T-Shirt.”) On that note, there’s also the high-pitched laugh of drummer Eliza following the rock-splosion that ends “Late Show.”
- The 9-syllable 1-syllable word: I never thought I’d love hearing the word “on” so much, when Jordan passionately belts it out in “Turn Me On,” stretching it out over nine syllables.
- The guitar: If I’m not mistaken, there’s only one guitar solo on this album, a fabulously fuzzed-out freakfest in “Late Show.” There’s some really cool lead stuff in “Gold,” too, but I wouldn’t quite call it a solo. But, and I said this of Dear Rouge’s debut album, too, it just makes me want more guitar solos! Actually, I watched this video from Indie88 before I bought the album and the killer jam at the end made me expect more wailing on the record. Maybe they save that for the live show, which I’m so psyched to check out at The Phoenix in Toronto on December 1 (they also play there December 2, both gigs opening for the blazingly awesome Death From Above).