The work of Milwaukee-based outfit The Last Bees is practically dripping with the sounds of the British Invasion. And while there is no shortage of bands who attempt to inhabit these particular sounds, The Last Bees (really just the moniker of musician Ian Ash) enter into this musical rapport with more reverence and respect than many of their peers. Jangly but not saccharine, and nostalgic but not weightless, the music is of course inextricably linked to the ‘60s but is also able to find a place where modern musical impulses can be filtered through these historical influences.
When he was younger, Ash basked in the glow of music at Summerfest, a festival in his hometown which continues to bring in hundreds of artists to perform near the banks of Lake Michigan every year. As his interest in making music grew, so too did his awareness that various forms of nostalgia were beginning to creep into the modern musical landscape – some with more reverence than others. And spurred on by the success of these bands, he decided to fully embrace his love of The Beatles.
After writing and recording a new song called “Can’t Wait” at his home studio, he trekked down to Chicago to play it for his manager, who then suggested that he create a whole set of tracks in the same vein as that one. Weaving together a youthful vulnerability with insanely catchy pop hooks, he submerged himself in an aesthetic which he felt was becoming less and less prevalent with each passing year. This was music bound for the heart, a buoyant burst of melody and exhilaration that built up rather than tore down. The resulting collection of songs, a 6-track self-titled EP which was released last week, is filled with unapologetically sentimental rhythms and lo-fi pop rambles which cling to your subconscious for days.
On recent single, “The Final Sting,” Ash explores the depths of this effervescent pop joy, basking in the glow and jangle of the ‘60s while still developing his own unique musical voice. The song feels spontaneous, like a stray thought that was fortuitously captured in the studio. A casual and rollicking stroll through his various inspirations, it feels comforting and exhilarating at the same time, a track that possesses a deep adoration for its roots but which also never loses sight of the fact that there is still so much more to explore and create.