The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Big Hurt  |  CD Reviews  |  Classical  |  Jazz  |  Live Reviews  |  Music Features

Review: CiB's strong finish

Get stung
By NICHOLAS SCHROEDER  |  November 11, 2010

The personal is apolitical. With this simple inversion of an old cliché, you'll discover why Covered in Bees (who disbanded in September) were so important. In an era where punk is a global phenomenon and many musicians' lyrical subject matter asserts little more than vague, impenetrable glimmers of an emotional life, CiB unabashedly wrote rally cries for the city they live in, however unglamorous it may be. Their live shows reflected this: they were glorious, riotous affairs where willing participants sacrificed personal space in favor of a collective ideal. Few local bands invited so many to the party.

The biggest strike against Portland Steel, their farewell CD, is that these songs won't get proper live treatment. In "Rock Staple Scissors," a cheeky, anthemic lament to the futilities of D.I.Y. punk show flyering, frontman Boo Leavitt calls out the "White Heart and apartment renters" among those who discourteously obscure his band's show posters with notices of their own. "Drive This 7" Wooden Stake Through My Portland Heart" gives a nod to Philly vamp-punk band Ink & Dagger's politics of place and adds a Portland (anti-)foodie twist: "We just had the night of our lives/hi-fives and stage dives/it's time for bed but I'm not ready/Hey dudes, let's go to Denny's." It's not always easily digestible material, but many can relate.

When CiB widens the scope, the tracks are hit-or-miss. "Fire in the Basement" is catchy as hell, but it suffers from some contradictory political sloganeering. "The Girl With the Octopus Arms" is a charming limerick exercise, but doesn't exactly demand multiple listens. On the other hand, "The Black Grimace" and "God Damn the Queen" both employ the darkly melodic formulas of early Turbonegro to a chilling effect.

In building a legacy, the imperfections are just as important as the triumphs. Covered in Bees, in their six-year run, gave us plenty of both. It's no live show, but Portland Steel is a fitting swan song to our most ugly-duckling band.

Nicholas Schroeder can be reached

PORTLAND STEEL | by Covered in Bees | released on Entertainment Experiment

Related: Dinosaur Jr. at Port City Music Hall, June 20, 75orLess Records and the Apartment's jam-packed celebration, Huak + Metal Feathers at Bayside Bowl, September 24, More more >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, rock, Boo Leavitt,  More more >
| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 01/08 ]   Japanese Monster + Fat Creeps + Guilty Party + The Split  @ Church of Boston
[ 01/08 ]   "Third in Line"  @ Lily Pad
[ 01/08 ]   Three Pianos  @ Loeb Drama Center
Share this entry with Delicious
    Based on gustatory adventurer Joe Ricchio's cult foodie blog Portland Food Coma, Food Coma TV ( has had a revelatory first season.
  •   SHORT FILMS TAKE OVER SPACE  |  January 04, 2012
    Having screened the first of this series back in June, it's good to see evidence that SPACE Gallery plans to show the whole "Project 35" collection.
  •   MEMORIES FROM A YEAR IN ART SHOWS  |  December 21, 2011
    It was a year when the best shows weren't often the most memorable, and the most memorable weren't often the best.
    This week's Art Walk is replete with holiday shows, bazaars, and craft fairs.
  •   ODD FUTURES  |  November 23, 2011
    Since 1997, the Oddfellow Theater has been one of the best kept secrets of the Maine theater scene. Soon, it goes away for good.

 See all articles by: NICHOLAS SCHROEDER

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed