The term "indie" is tossed around so liberally these days that it's hard to know where it came from or what -- if anything -- it means. Old-school punk zines? Tegan and Sara? Urban Outfitters? Thankfully, the members of local four-piece National Beekeepers Society seem to have an idea of what where the indie aesthetic originates and what DIY looks like in an age of rampant corporate branding.
With song titles like "Suburbanite" on its brand-new album, Pawn Shop Etiquette, or "Slackerevolution" from its self-titled 2006 debut, it's hard to miss the Society's message about mindless consumption and its antidote. However, while the sound and lyrics of many of their songs bring to mind lo-fi forbears such as Pavement and the Pixies, there's an undercurrent so gloomy it could only be alt-country.
"Lazy," the second track on the new album, is a case in point. The message about yuppies overly concerned with social status and Crate & Barrel catalogs sounds a lot like something Stephen Malkmus might sing, and the guitars are heavy enough for a Weezer album. Arguably though, it's the sad, sneaky minor chord behind the line "Mother says I'm a lazy man" that makes the song. These types of tears-in-your-beer moments recall bands like the Old 97's rather than Frank Black.
What's more, "Lazy" is a successful evolution in sound for the band. According to Kris Hansen, the band's bass guitarist, this song differs from the band's earlier work thanks to the addition of a trombone part. "The trombone parts on a couple of Pawn Shop Etiquette tracks are a great addition to our sound that take ideas that may have seemed pithy and add a somber tone," he says.
An MP3 of "Lazy" is available in the related downloads at right. More songs by the group can be listened to on its MySpace page. National Beekeepers Society will perform at a release show for Sleeping in the Aviary at the Frequency on Thursday, October 9.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.