You've got to like any CD with a picture of a
cat on the back. More specifically, a cat that looks just like
mine. Yeah, I know that cover art technically has nothing to
do with a band's music. But honestly, when I first saw the picture
of the cat on the back of Bling Bling's release Diary
Of A …, I thought, "Someone has cats. I bet I'm going
to like this one."
Luckily, upon listening to the actual music, I was not disappointed by this Miami-based band, although they're a little hard to pin down musically. In the course of the album's 12 songs, I hear the influence of several genres. Some songs remind me of early 90s Indie Rock; other have a harder edge that comes closer to Post Punk. And still others go off in a completely different direction. Yet, no matter how Bling Bling sounds on any one track, the music and its execution comes across as simply fun.
For instance, the first song Blade of the Made begins
with a quick, jangled guitar part that harkens back to The Wedding
Present, circa Seamonsters. At the same time,
Ivan Marchena's vocals also show a nice David
Gedge influence which completes the comparison. In contrast,
10-4 on the Makeout features a pseudo-Duran Duran-y keyboard
over a mid-80s New Wave angular dance drum/guitar combo. During
the song, the interplay between the faster drums and the more
melodic keyboards makes the music sound slightly busy. However,
this is a good thing, since it reminds me of Atlanta band, The
Orphins. Then, on 1,2,3 i'm gone, the band explores yet
another genre, as the loud, distorted guitar combines with the
echoed vocals to give the song a more retro-garage feel, in
the vein of a band like The Capitol Years. Yet, no matter how
different the songs sound from each other, all of the above-mentioned
songs (as well as many others I don't talk about) are catchy
and fun to listen to.
Still, for me, the best tracks on Diary Of A…
recall early '90s American Indie Rock bands. For instance, Summersong
matches a strong bass line with a great guitar blend. This effect
subsequently plays against multiple vocal lines that ebb and
flow in a way that reminds me of the early work of New York
band Versus. Like Versus's songs,
everything on this song is fairly minimal and slightly melancholy
but nevertheless beautiful in its own way. In contrast, the
title track of the album is both happy, a little jangly, and
rocks out. However, like Summersong, the song Diary
Of A… reminds me of another early 90s Indie Rock band -
in this case Superchunk.
The slightly deliberate drumming of Ed Artigas combines with
occasional musical pauses to seem like a homage to Throwing
Things. Nevertheless, Ivan Marchena's vocals are more melodic
than anything produced by early Superchunk, and enhance this
So, one has to admit that Bling Bling aren't necessarily offering anything
completely new and different from that which has come before.
However, they do recombine these familiar elements into something
that is their own. Furthermore, the band also manages to sound
both fresh and competent so that the vaguely recognizable nature
of the songs isn't bothersome in any way. Finally, I also suspect
that this recording wouldn't do Bling Bling's concerts justice.
Based on what I'm hearing, I think they would be a very energetic
and compelling band to see live.
Anyway, as I was sitting here, pondering how to conclude, I
turned to my cat - you know, the one who looks like the cat
on the cover -- and said, "Well , what do you think?" She rubbed
up against the case of the CD and then my laptop, as if to point
out that like attracts like. All of the bands I mentioned in
comparison above are ones for which I have a great fondness.
So, even if this album isn't ground-breaking or anything, it's
no wonder I like Diary Of A … so much.