Archives For Beck

During my first couple years of college I had a 20 inch television that got about 9 channels. I lived on Jamba Juice and Ramen. I watched Jeopardy, a ton of Cosby Show reruns, and at least four episodes of The Simpsons per night. I’d also scour PBS for new and old episodes of Sessions at West 54th and Austin City Limits. This particular video from Beck’s performance on ACL, a cover Hank Williams Sr.’s “Lonesome Whistle,” really sticks out. Sea Change had recently obliterated my mind (still does) and well, I love hillbilly music. You should too. T//

UPDATE: YouTube pulled the ACL version of Beck doing the song and now all we’re left with the below performance. It’s still good IMO, just not as polished.

I’ve long been infatuated with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Charlie Kaufman’s probable and mindful masterpiece. There’s just something about it. I’m constantly amazed by how the far fetched or unbelievable aspects of the film become the complete opposite by the final scene. I mean, do you not believe that someone could be erased from your memory by the end?

With that, I’ve also been insanely jazzed on Beck’s cover of The Korgis song, “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime,” that kicks off the end credits. Honestly, I can’t think of a song that better fits the tone and mood at the close of any film than this.

While I almost prefer the final scene that bleeds  into the credit text, this montage that melds the film and song together works really well at achieving that same ‘warm/empty’ feeling. Enjoy. For the 3,375, 147 time.

Stop Making Sense!?!

February 2, 2009 — 4 Comments

While cleaning out my childhood bedroom I came across a box of treasures that made me as elated as Beck’s “Debra” showing up on random this morning.  Review clippings from shows I had been to as a youngster, random things handed out at those shows, and ticket stubs from every concert I attended from 1995-2001 were stashed away in a Converse All-Stars box in the back of my closet.  Sure, all of these items were great to reminisce with, but the most important nugget to this post specifically was a bundle of scribbled in notebooks that I had used as journals during those years.

There was the the typical drawn and doodled names of girls that I secretly crushed on. Failed prose mimicking my favorite poets and artists. And WRITTEN OUT, word for word, lyrics to songs that made me feel cool, hip, individualistic, and like none of my friends.  Dyaln, the Dead, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, etc… The list goes on and on.  Upon seeing this I was shocked. Remembering writing them down but also wondering what in the hell I was thinking.  There is no way that I would do something like that now.  I wouldn’t even think of it.

And then I realized that my relationship with music has changed drastically since then.  While I used hang on every lyric that made me feel intertwined with the loners, lovers, and losers that populated my favorite songs, I simply don’t do that anymore.


Is it that artists nowadays fall short of producing glittering fodder to feed our minds?  I often think this is the case when a friend’ll quote interesting or relatable song lyrics to whatever it is we’re rapping about.  Most if not all were penned some 30 years ago. Can’t really see anyone throwing a line from Brandon Flowers and Co. out there. Unless of course we really end up being alien dancers

Or is it that I was naive to think that the ambiguous hero in a Lou Reed narrative and I had something in common? (maybe-probably) Too fried to think that Syd Barrett and I shared an emotion?

Or is it that it is nearly impossible to make out just what is being sung.  I love me some MMJ and so much as a breath into the microphone from lead singer Jim James gives me chills.  But man is he hard to understand sometimes.  True, it is fun to make up your own lyrics to his songs, but also embarrassing if you were to quote asinine made-up lyrics in front of a die hard.

I’m pretty sure that there is not a universal answer suitable for such a question. Maybe people still invest all of their attention on lyrical content.  Alter meanings to fit their own situations. Maybe it’s just me. I can’t do it. Not completely anyway.

Years and years  of listening to and following Phish could have contributed to my current state.  Let’s face it, their sounds and grooves annihilate even the prettiest words that Tom Marshall or Mike Gordon put on paper.

Or maybe it was my studying of literature for almost a decade.  Being forced to pay attention to every inkblot on a page has forced me to pay more attention to the white spaces around them.

Now it’s the sound of harmonies that get me. You could string all of the harmonic vocalizations from Pet Sounds together and I could transport myself to a much happier place.  A nice bass line may do the same thing.  A nice bass line mixed a steady piano and a driving drum beat have been know to throw me into a  convulsive frenzy.  Think Joe Cocker light.  There is also nothing better than a chunky guitar riff that is filthier than an Andrew Dice Clay routine falling on the ears of a virginal youth.

To get a feel for what I’m talking about, check out LCD Soundsystem’s “All My Friends” from Sound of Silver or the guitar work of Mick Taylor on “Sympathy for the Devil” from the Stones 1969 live release Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out.  Both are absolute head shakers.  The entire LCDS track grooves from start to finish. Be prepared, you’re gonna move.  James Murphy’s lyrics are an asset to the song but can only be considered a runner up to the pulsating beats and grooves that fill the speakers, your ears, and your soul.

The Stones track, on the other hand, is a builder and a slow burner.  Most people know and like the studio track of this song.  I’ll admit, I like it a lot too but this live version absolutely kills.  Most of the song stays true to form, but when that solo hits and Mick’s guitar starts to whine and punish, you’re blanketed by it’s nastiness.  You’re eyes close a little, you’re head starts to move from side to side and you find yourself tracking back to start the solo over and over again.  This version will induce a swagger.  You maybe never be able to get to the end of it.  Can’t recall if I have.

So while I still have an ear for good lyrics, the actual music and sounds that accompany them does it for me a little more.  Maybe it won’t always be the case and I’ll end up jotting down Craig Finn’s latest tale about Catholicism and alcohol abuse if I begin to lose touch. But for now, I’ll keep flooding my buds with atmospheric mood changers.

What gets you going? A 12 minute lyrical journey like Dylan’s “Desolation Row?” Or 64 minute noise affair fueled by feedback like Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music?


About a month ago, a sect of my trusted ears asked me to give up the goods. They wanted to know exactly just what music got dizzle through the trying year that was 2008.  What got me back and forth from that good for nothing but a paycheck and headache that I call a job.  Well, I skirted the question for far too long.  It’s time to put up together a best of 08′ list that will hopefully not look like the rest.  Besides,  I was planning on posting a blog about my most anticipated musical moments of this upcoming year, but that just wouldn’t jive without doing this ish first. 

I’d like to start off with saying that when I hear a record that I really like, on first listen I will quickly shout to the masses, “It’s the album of the year.” I don’t know how many of my friends had to remind me that I said that a countless number of times about a countless number of records.  Funny thing is, some of those sounds that  I celebrated early on don’t even crack honorable mention.  Also, it is important to note that I am ordering these based on, among many criteria, but mainly their replayability and their ability to stir emotion.  So, here goes:

Honorable Mention:     Dr. Dog-Fate, Okkervill River-The Stand Ins,

M83-Saturdays=Youth, Frightened Rabbit-The Midnight Organ Fight,

Little Joy-Little Joy, Jay Reatard-Matador Singles 08′, Beach House-Devotion,

Department of Eagles-In Ear Park, The War on Drugs-Wagonwheel Blues,

The Felice Brothers-The Felice Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show-Tennessee Pusher.

10) Beck-Modern Guilt  

I knew I’d be a fan of this album after hearing the opening seconds of the first single, “Chemtrails.” The entire album is super laid back and Beck and interlaces moods from my Beck triple play, Odelay, Mutations,and Sea Change. It also lends enough funk to the mix to bring Midnite Vultures into the discussion.

9) Black Keys-Attack &Release

A pretty fair release from the explosive duo reigning from Akron, OH. I’m a pretty big fan of theirs (I’ve got a rainbow colored set of vinyl to prove it) and was not disappointed with the change this record brought about. Danger Mouse brought a new element and some much welcomed organ to increase the Keys soul-i-fication.

8)Lil Wayne- Tha Carter III

I really don’t have much to say about this album except that it received an enormous amount of play this past summer.  I don’t think that LW does anything necessarily to innovate within the category of music he works in but his flow is absolutely undeniable.  Pretty easy for me to say that, even though people are screaming that he’s selling out,  he is the best at what he does. Hands down.  

7)Girl Talk- Feed the Animals

Another undeniable album that is as infectious as it is clever.  I love this man’s work in that every step is carefully calculated.  He’s a mathematician, building formulas from beats, rhymes, hooks and all that sweat that pours onto his MacBook Pro while performing.  The entire album is a highlight.

6)Kings of Leon- Only By the Night

This album took my by surprise.  I’ve liked them since a friend told me that Youth and Young Manhood was better than Is this It. Not quite the case, but that’s a whole different conversation.  I think Only By the Night is solid because it capitalizes on the grooves and catchiness that made Aha Shake Heartbreak such a staple in my rotation and melds that with the big and gutsy sounds of YaYM and Because of the Times. The first two singles are hotter than a nymphomaniac with pyromaniac tendencies.  Plus, how can one dislike the yelp of lead singer Caleb Followill.  

5)Justin Townes Earle- The Good Life

I’ve never wished that I owned a pair of cowboy boots more than when I listen to this album.  On the fantastic Bloodshot label, this album is gritty, folky,and twangy.  Justin Townes Earle weaves great narratives to some great down home and foot tapping music.  Probably the best representation of old school country done well today that I can think of. He makes you feel his songs.  Looking forward to checking him out with Jason Isbell @ High Noon Saloon in April.

4)She & Him- Volume One

It’s no secret, or if it was it isn’t anymore, that I dig this combination. It was probably the first record that I stamped “Best album of the Year.”  M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel are a perfect match (Ben Gibbard might not agree but…) that produced another undeniable and infectious album that is extremely soulful and hooky.  These are sing-a-long songs just as much as they are hum-a-long songs.  I must sound so dumb trying to duplicate Zooey’s vocals but like I said it’s absolutely undeniable.

3)The Hold Steady- Stay Positive

If you want emotion to come out from a record, these last three picks flip the bill for me.  Whenever The Hold Steady comes on, I know that, to use a way too oft used phrase, “it’s go time.” For some reason Craig Finn’s talky vocals are filled with a swagger and massive amounts of exciting delinquency.  Mix that with soaring classic rock guitar. keys and  a band that can shout-a-long with the best of em.  This album took a while to grow on me but as of now it is right up there with the rest of THS’s albums.

2)Fleet Foxes-Fleet Foxes  & Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago

From the minute the play button is pushed, this album will grab a hold of you and not let go until it’s dying breath.  Vocals absolutely take the center stage.  Sometimes when listening to this it is almost as if the lyrics don’t matter.  Justin could be emoting the almost anything and still manage to bring the slightest tear to the corner of your eye or a very large smile to your Chevy Chase. “Skinny Love” will probably go down in my top 10 favorite songs of the 00’s for doing just that.  Smiling and crying. That’s what Bon Iver aims to make you do.  Oh, and he’s from the desolate yet beautiful city of Eau Claire, WI which makes him 32% cooler.

I loved the Fleet Foxes before I even heard one glorious note.  Pitchfork painted such a good portrait of them that it was near impossible to not like them.  While I tend to blindly give in to the Pitchfork effect, in this case they were dead nuts.  Beautiful harmonies, beautiful lyrics that make you feel like you’re in the great northwest with them.  This chills produced from listening to this record may make you grab a blanket or a wooly sweater to warm yourself with in the middle of August.  

1)My Morning Jacket- Evil Urges

It strikes me as odd that a record that I didn’t think would make my top ten is in fact my number one.  Track for track, this album will move you.  It’s explosive, nasty, and what I like to call D-luxe. It brings all the intangibles.  It has songs to sing-a-long to in “Thank You Too” “I’m Amazed” and “Sec Walkin'”.  Songs to rock to: “Evil Urges” “Highly Suspicious”and “Aluminum Park”.  Song’s to reflect to “Smoking From Shooting” and “Two Halves.”  And most importantly, songs to groove and shake to in the massive throw down “Touch Me I’m Going to Scream, Part II.”  You can easily rock and roll to Evil Urges and this is just another instance where a lack in your ability to feel this record just may also represent a lack or deficiency of your soul.  

See you next time…