Bumblebeez frontman Chris Colonna began dabbling with cut-up hip-hop after he heard a Chad Smith drum-break on a Chili Peppers record and wanted to extend it. Using cellophane tape, he patched together fragments of different music to create new sounds and constructions. This ethos forms the foundation of Bumblebeez; it’s a mash-up of lo-fi punk and hip-hop beats with electronic loops and other influences. The Printz — as if the cute spelling of the band name wasn’t enough — compiles the band’s English EP, Red Printz, and its Australian EP, White Printz.
The obvious single from the record, “Microphone Diseases,” first came to my attention on a Jockey Slut Disco Pogo compilation last year. It’s a guilty pleasure to say the least — an extremely catchy slice of sample-crazy bubblegum hip-hop, with Colonna’s kid sister Pia rapping as Queen Vila. The track resembles early Peaches in its tongue-in-cheek defiant attitude, only quite a bit sharper. It’s based on a simple one-two kick/snare beat, some clever rhyme constructions and in-your-face flow. It has the cheek and pure audacity to sample a few melancholy bars from DJ Shadow (is nothing sacred anymore?). But it’s not just all sass and genre shape-shifting kitch — there is a lot of attention paid to drum samples and programming. “I’ve Come with Water” is a more guitar-based version of the same formula, this time anchored by guitar and thick drums and Pia singing in verse. Another highlight is “Pony Ride” — acoustic and distorted guitar rock ‘n’ roll with samples and electronic elements, this time with Colonna on vocals.
Some songs are underdeveloped and have a definite shelf-life, and although the record has its clever, catchy moments, it also has parts that dwell on being so lo-fi and abrasive that your finger twitches to the “Next” button. But songs like “Let’s Go,” which sounds like your local bad high school punk band practicing in the garage, are in stark contrast to some of the sampling dexterity and creativity in other parts of The Printz.
I had every intention of badmouthing this record for its sheer playfulness and moments of aforementioned audacity — that’s what listening to somber folk and too much ambient music will do to you. But once I realized this band wasn’t trying to be anything more than some friends having a laugh and making music, I started to climb out of my Wire magazine-induced coma and out into the summer sunshine, where I could envision myself getting down to most of these tracks in drunken summer house-party fashion, which is surely what the Bumblebeez intended.