Beach Patrol Review
Now Wave Magazine, Philadelphia PA
It's Only Greener 'Til You Get There CD
(Duck On Monkey Records)
(REVIEW BY LORD RUTLEDGE)
If, like me, you've been known to blow out your birthday candles and wish there were more bands like The Figgs, then Beach Patrol is the group for you. I mean this in a totally good way - Beach Patrol is anything but a lame carbon copy knockoff. Primary songwriter Nick Marcantonio has quickly established himself as a rising star of the underground pop world. His influences are conspicuous (Elvis Costello, The Beatles, and, duh, The Figgs), but his talents are abundant. And if his singing voice is a near dead ringer for Mike Gent's, that's hardly his fault!
In an age when lots of bands have a "sound" but very few have songs, Beach Patrol's debut album really stands out. The group's mix of melodic pop and rootsy bar-band rock n' roll would be palatable even if its material were strictly run of the mill. But thankfully, this Milwaukee/Green Bay trio has given us far more than a passable first record. It's delivered a full batch of well-crafted, highly engaging, and enormously catchy pop songs. I know this is blasphemy, but The Figgs haven't made an album this good in six years!
A good sign: when I first popped in this CD, I heard "Starcrossed Girl" and knew right away that I was really going to like Beach Patrol. And that's probably the weakest song on the album! The best are "Trouble Trouble" (a fantastic Costello/Graham Parker inspired number) and the hard-rocking "Amelia" (perhaps the most morbidly catchy pop song since Husker Du's Diane - sing along at your own risk!). Also great are "Tease" (the one obvious "Figgs meet Elvis Costello" cooker), the Jeff VanDreel-penned "Mary" (a high-spirited pub sing-along), "Sunny Day Flower Grave II" (vaguely dark jangle-pop in the vein of the Barracudas), and "Already Mine" (high energy powerpop not unlike Superstar Car Wash era Goo Goo Dolls). Honestly, there isn't a single bad song to be heard here!
What's most impressive about Beach Patrol is that such a young band could show such a refined sense of pop craftsmanship. Any ordinary group can hit the target when it comes to a general style, but the exceptional bands know how to nail down the small details. Beach Patrol demonstrates a command of the "little things" that make good pop good. Note the playful guitar riff at the beginning of "Mary", or the memorable bass line rolling through "Trampoline", or the way Marcantonio ups the gusto of his singing at the climactic points of "Trouble Trouble". None of those songs would be quite the same without those particular touches. And it's exactly that advanced songwriting prowess that allows Beach Patrol to avoid the "every song sounds the same" fate that curses far too many powerpop bands. Listening to this first release from three guys who are only a few years removed from high school, I could easily mistake it for a veteran band's best-of package!
August 25, 2006
Beach Patrol Review
Razorcake Magazine- Los Angeles, CA
It's Only Greener Til You Get There: CD
Well, there's certainly nothin' wrong with getting a big box of records shipped to ya from the West Coast, and havin' the best of the bunch (by far) being the one knocked out by the local dudes! I mean, Green Bay has always been a city that digs good power-pop/pop-rock type stuff, it's just that the bands from around here have never really figured out how to actually play the shit. Enter Beach Patrol! Recording at some studio I never even heard of, and using such fonts as Marker Felt and Marker Felt Thin, these guys have successfully positioned themselves as a sort of backwoods Figgs, successfully channeling a fully functional, if often utilitarian, highly amplified fourth Monkees album thing, if you know what I mean, and I'm fairly certain you don't (I mean, listen to the first song, 'Starcrossed Girl' Come on, that's the fourth Monkees album right there! It even kinda looks like the song 'Star Collector, doesn't it? Doesn't it? Admit I'm right and i'll stop right now!). Heck, 'Come Runnin' sounds like something Titletown's own Fun w/Atoms would've played at one AM on a Saturday night in like 1984, these guys probably weren't even born then, and album closer, 'Top Down,' is so good that you'll forgive the fact that it's not the Teenage Head song of the same name. What's it all mean? I dunno. There must be something in the water. OOPS, WRONG BAND! BEST SONG: 'Top Down' BEST SONG TITLE: 'Trampoline,' because it sort of sounds like 'Carousel' by the Hollies, but going the other way.
Album Of The Year Award
Now Wave Magazine, Philadelphia PA
Album of the Year
Beach Patrol - It's Only Greener 'Til You Get There
Picking the top album of the year required a hugely difficult decision. I seriously considered the Kidnappers' Neon Signs, as well as the Bamboo Kids' Feel Like Hell. And on the pop/alternative side of things, the AV Club and The Tattle Tales could not be ignored. But ultimately, it came down to two serious candidates, both of which were clearly worthy title holders. It was a virtual tie in my mind: the poppy, blues-baked rock n' roll of the Mojomatics or the beer-joint powerpop of Beach Patrol. To break the tie, I resorted to extreme measures. I meditated for an entire weekend in the Arizona desert, far removed from modern conveniences and sustained only by deer jerky and un-refrigerated Coors. I played both discs for all of my friends, neighbors, and relatives (who mostly responded with laughter, derision, and queries about my thoughts on Santana and Gretchen Wilson). I checked into a university research facility that scientifically measured my pleasure response to both albums. Nothing at all conclusive came of such endeavors. In a last-ditch attempt to crown a champion full-length, I invited my friends Ryan and Roy over and instructed each of them to take one of the album of the year candidates home with them. I asked each man to not allow me to have my disc back under any circumstance, because I was testing myself and needed to find out which of the two I'd miss enough to resort to illegal means of recovery. Roy took the Beach Patrol disc; Ryan took Mojomatics. Whose house would I break into first? Two nights later, I had my answer - discovered at the expense of two broken fingers, one dog bite, and the horror of seeing Roy's little sister's middle-aged boyfriend's flabby bare ass.
I liked the Beach Patrol album from the first time I heard it, but I think it took a while for me to come to the realization that it was bona fide album of the year material. The idiot rock critic synopsis of this band is something along the lines of "The Figgs + Elvis Costello + Green Bay", but even that doesn't do the group justice. The music of Beach Patrol is timelessly catchy pop/rock, distinguished not just by style but also by some of the finest songwriting exhibited in years. These are songs you like after one listen, love after five listens, and can't live without after 20 listens. I'll say what I said before: the album is so strong and consistent that it really could pass for a veteran band's best-of collection. There's not a bad song in the bunch; even the "weakest" tracks would not have sounded out of place on Sucking In Stereo (generally regarded in Now Wave nation as The Figgs' very best album).