Isle of Wight’s The Bees have clearly done their music history homework. Throughout their entire tenure as a band, they’ve incorporated, to their advantage, elements of garage rock, old school R&B, dub reggae, and world sounds. Having some mainstream success, they’ve always kept a somewhat low profile, usually touring and staying around their native England and surrounding U.K. territories.
Starting as a recording project with just Paul Butler and Aaron Fletcher, the band’s initial record Sunshine Hit Me received enough attention to be nominated for the United Kingdom’s 2002 Mercury Prize, an annual ‘Best Of’ survey that gave them worldwide notoriety. They went to Abbey Road Studios to record for their second effort and delivered an amazingly tight knit group of songs with a newly formed live band (albeit old friends from their local music scene). Their third record Octopus is equally as compelling as their previous two, and I feel just as strongly about it’s music.
Butler and Fletcher share vocal duties for many of the songs, with Butler taking the majority of the lead roles. He is also the spearhead of the project, receiving the albums’ official producer credit. He has also worked as producer for other artists such as on Devendra Banhart’s 2009 release, What Will We Be.
What I love about these guys is their immense aptitude on a wide range of instruments; on record and in performance Butler will play anything from guitar, keyboards, and saxophone to trumpet, sitar, and drums. The other guys switch instruments ad nauseum as well. The most amazing thing to witness, though, is that THEY PLAY THEM ALL WELL. It’s pretty absurd. They’re able to truly internalize the music that inspires them and spit it back out with their own imprint.
Their newest record came out late last year and is entitled Every Step’s a Yes. It’s a much more mellow affair than their last few records, amping up the psychadelic and world tendencies that they’ve covered in their past, but still delivering a pretty amazing set of new tunes. Check out the feel good lead single “I Really Need Love” from Every Step’s a Yes and “Listening Man” from Octopus.