Alex James‘ QUIET SLANG (BEACH SLANG) WE WERE BABIES & WE WERE DIRTBAGS’ EP review
First a little background because you need to know it in case you don’t know: “Beach Slang” are an indie punk pop power surf 4 piece band hailing from Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Every song they have written and recorded is sunshine in a bottle already made to help you through your summers of fun or ( if you’re older) to remind you of them. Their youthful energy is endless and the lyrics are always deeper and more poetic than their contemporary counterparts. They have released about a half-dozen albums now and are touring the world and spreading their brand.
So then out of nowhere it comes as a challenging surprise that singer guitarist James Alex releases an EP of piano based tracks under the name “Quiet Slang” and entitled ‘WE WERE BABIES & WE WERE DIRTBAGS’. Pun aside, this is a chrysalis reformation for existing fans. Whilst there is a possibility of alienating old fans there is also the chance that Alex is appealing to that side of them that is growing – like he is. It is a testament to the scope of his talent that he has gone from Halloween to the haunting. There are even re-works of some Beach Slang tunes which in itself is refreshing, not just an MTV “unplugged” style from the 90’s where you just strapped on an acoustic guitar and wore a skivvy, but a complete reworking of the feels.
In hindsight this small offering EP would have been better as a large offering, however we have to take what we can get right?? “Future Mix Tape for the Art Kids” is brilliant, the lyric on this sad and dark piano tune is disturbing“A generation waits to bleed, for broken kids no one needs” oozes melancholy. Flipping into “ Bad Art and weirdo ideas” -a song that fights itself for a positive mood, then all of a sudden we’re at the honky-tonk sing-song swing of “Androgenous” and then the loneliness and pain of “Thirteen” completes this short and fabulous offering, the riffs stick in your head for days.
If you’re into artists like Smashing Pumpkins, Ben Folds or Elliot Smith then this side of James Alex’s personality will endear itself to the rainy day parts of your soul.
Words by John Anon