I call it “throwback rock”.  Artists that summon the gods of pop/rock from the ’60’s and ’70’s–primarily the Beatles, the Who, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, the Band, The Byrds, and the Beach Boys.

There are many of them out there, and I’m no expert on the contemporary rock scene, but of those I’ve heard from the “throwback school” the best I’ve heard are Dr. Dog and The Bees.

Shifting genres from song to song, “Octopus” resurrects the ghosts of these rock giants (primarily the British groups–The Bees homeland), while throwing in some Fela Kuti and Stevie Wonder influences for good measure.  To their credit, the Bees never sound derivative–the influences are immediately evident to the trained ear, but they’ve cultivated their own style that sounds fresh and invigorating.

“Octopus” is a fun, happy record with great flow from beginning to end.  Highlights include the opener, “Who Cares What the Question is?” with its Stones-like slide riff and ’60’s Kinksian vocals; “Left Foot Stepdown” is an afro-beat party tune with great horns; “Listening Man” is reggaefied soul with a loping, easy beat; and “(This is For the) Better Days conjures the happy, clavinet-driven spirit of the best Stevie Wonder tunes.

This record belongs in the collection of all fans of the great rock heroes looking for a contemporary spin on the classic pop/rock sound.          ++++ out of +++++

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