album reviews

the Beatings
Holding on to Hand Grenades
Midriff Records (2006)

Punk rock quartet the Beatings seems to be following in the footsteps of fellow Massachusetts band the Pixies. In addition to their obvious sonic similarities, both bands feature a female bassist who chimes in on vocals from time to time. The Beatings even sought out the Pixies' former engineer, Paul Q. Kolderie, to produce their latest, "Holding on to Hand Grenades."

The Beatings often sound like a throwback to a lot of pre-'90s college alt-rock, with the high volume assault of Husker Du and even the monotone growl of Joy Division's Ian Curtis, but they're equally reminiscent of the more recent sounds coming from Chapel Hill, N.C.'s Merge Records. Along with the controlled Superchunk-ness of "Burn Down the Jungle," the Beatings' more melodic singing (such as the jubilant male/female vocals at the end of "Stockholm Syndrome Relapse") recall last year's darlings, the Arcade Fire.

But rather than being held back by such similarities, the Beatings push beyond them. Nestled between two brief transitional instrumentals is the album's most striking song, "Pennsyltuckey," in which Erin Dalbec's husky coo and restrained bass lines grow into a catchy, rambunctious rocker. That vibrant energy and carefree post-punk zeal move the Beatings well past their more prominent influences.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 27 January 2006, Page WE10
.: Holding on to Hand Grenades on