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December 06

BECKTRAIL OF THE DEAD

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Beck
The Information

Interscope

Much of Beck’s music is difficult to describe. His newest CD, released in October, is no exception.

The difficulty comes from the artist himself. Over the years Beck has drawn on so many different types of rock, hip hop, jazz, electronic, punk, as well as other non-western styles of music, to create a musical language all his own.

Although the songs off The Information are extremely accessible, with its loosely based rock structure and with some songs more catchy than others, the CD is full of melodic and lyrical breakdowns that lift listeners off to a futuristic yet retro world.

The CD, which also includes a bizarre music video DVD, reflects a mature fusion of all of the best of Beck’s music, like the alternative rock riffs of Mellow Gold, the serene sounds of Sea Changes, the eclectic mix of genres found in Mutations, just as examples. Yet, the distinct and driving rhythms of The Information, industrial and urban at its core, and its poetic but random lyrics, create a solid album that is a perfect fit for driving in traffic, contemplating history in a coffee shop or maybe even going for a jog...on the moon. —Elana Gordon (posted 12/15/06)


…and they will know us by the trail of dead
So Divided

Interscope

Strange, lush, atmospheric, eerie and orchestral, the music of AYWKUBTTOD (ok, sometimes anagrams don’t make things easier) is as original as it is uncommercial, with results that can be maddeningly hard to pin down; and, frankly, they deserve a freakin’ medal for it.

The music industry as a whole (producers, marketers, radio stations and, yes, music writers, too) expect, at best, nothing more than a few chopped up words for most musical genres, like alt-pop, neo-goth, (and a real fave… Norwegian death-metal!) etc., all to help keep the fans as stupid and uncritical as possible. Did you think boy bands and lounge singers are constantly in the top ten in album sales because they’re good? (pause for hysterical laughter) Whew, ok, almost lost it on that one. No, the simple fact is that few bands ever manage to gain commercial attention without conforming, and if there’s anything these boys don’t do, it’s conform, baby.

While on sight it would be easily to label these five Austin fellas hipsters (hair that they spent an hour on to make it look like they just woke up, half-intellectual bullshit quotes to interviewers, etc.), the music rises above even that industry-standard asshole behavior. Led by Conrad Keely’s rhythmically sinister vocals, the nine songs on So Divided roll through each other like a Pink Floyd album, trading melodies and harmonies that run the gambit, sliding from pop to orchestral to Irish ditties, and even at one point sounding just like a freakin’ Beatles song.

In other words, these guys are just that damn good.

Yes, yes, everyone knows they are famous for their instrument-shattering live shows, often walking away bloodied and bruised — what musical hack wouldn’t want to jump on that tasty image and strangle it to death? Sure, the song titles tend to edge to the absurd, and the lyrics verge on pomposity…who cares? The only aspect of music NOT controlled somewhere by a rich white man in an expensive office is originality, be it good, bad or indifferent, and their is no question that this is some of the most original and refreshing music you’ll never hear on the radio.

That’s a pretty good trail to follow. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 12/08/06)


 
 
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