Posts Tagged ‘Beck’

Pitchfork Music Festival – Day 1 by Eric Berman

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Pitchfork Music Festival – Day 1 by Eric Berman

It was an exceptional first day at Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago.

Every year I go to this festival and come away with all kinds of new bands I would never otherwise have heard that become new favorites. Day one was no different with a great chill soul singer named SZA (Solana Rowe) who is part of Kendrick Lamar’s Top Dawg Entertainment crew. Her debut album entitled Z” came out this past April and I’m listening to it on Spotify as I type this.

Also amazing was Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks an Animal Collective offshoot project that was as wiggy and psychedelic as the mothership but with added guitar crunch.

Other highlights of the day included Beck who opened with “Devil’s Haircut” and performed no less than three tracks from the “Midnight Vultures” album which, judging by crowd reaction has surely grown in stature over the years. Giorgio Morodor’s DJ set touched on almost all phases of his career as images of his protégé’s including Donna Summer drifted on and off the screen.

There was also the welcome return of Neneh Cherry (daughter of Jazz trumpeter Don Cherry) who performed much of her new album and, of course also performed her 1989 hit “Buffalo Stance.” Another early highlight of the day was Factory Floor, an industrial dance band from London, England.

Edited: July 19th, 2014

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 2/28/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “What The Eyeballs Did” by Atoms For Peace

The first thing that grabs you is the rhythm – jittery, squiggly, purely wiggy and totally glitchy rhythm. Rhythms that don’t make you dance, but do make you move. The ghost of Talking Heads’ Remain In Light lives here. Their fingerprints are all over songs that have been built up from rhythm. They inhabit the nine tracks that make up Amok, the first official album by Atoms For Peace.

Atoms For Peace consists of Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke, Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (keyboards, synths), Joey Waronker of Beck & R.E.M.  on drums and Brazilian instrumentalist Mauro Refosco on percussion. The group bonded over their shared love of Afrobeat music and Fela Kuti, although you’d be hard pressed to feel the influence in the electronic jitter within.

They originally assembled back in 2009 when Yorke decided to take his first solo record, The Eraser out on the road. Back then the group went by the awkward monikers “??????” or “Thom Yorke????” depending on where they performed. Now they’re known by the also-awkward moniker “Atoms For Peace,” named after a song from The Eraser which took its name from a 1953 speech made by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Recording began in 2010, with Yorke assembling the band to share his laptop experiments. They then jammed on top of Yorke’s rhythm tracks and shaped the extended jams they captured on tape into songs by editing the pieces; much like Miles Davis and Teo Macero did back in the day while creating masterworks like Bitches Brew and In A Silent Way. Except, Amok is no Bitches Brew or In A Silent Way…

My first impression of the record is that this is dance music you can’t dance to. Nothing really sticks. The songs are merely patches of sound and rhythm with Yorke’s barely intelligible falsetto floating in and out of the proceedings. Just when the tracks seem like they are ready to cut loose, they evaporate into the ether. Yorke seems like he’s a guest in his own band, a band with Flea firmly in charge anchoring the songs as best he can.

Some of the tracks rise above the textural density upon repeated plays revealing hints of melody, including the album’s opener, “Before Your Very Eyes,” “Stuck Together In Pieces” which is held together by Flea’s bass loops, and “Default” which sounds like an outtake from David Byrne’s Music from the Catherine Wheel. “Dropped” and the record’s first single “Judge, Jury and Executioner” most resemble traditional song structures, and as a result are the most satisfying tracks here.

Best song of all isn’t even on the album! In their infinite wisdom, all of videos from Amok have been removed from YouTube. However, today’s Song Of The Day, “What The Eyeballs Did” is an outtake from the album that is easily better than everything that made it onto the album. When Atoms For Peace announced the release of the record in December, the song was included on the band’s website as a hidden Easter Egg. Happy Hunting!

So what we have is a somewhat flat headphone album you can get totally lost in. These tracks will no doubt explode when performed live on tour later this year.

Edited: February 27th, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 9/22/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Trying” by Dwight Yoakam

It’s been seven years since Dwight Yoakam’s last album of original material and although time has moved on, it has seemingly stood still when it comes to this album…and that, of course, is a good thing. Yoakam has been treading the line between honky-tonk country and roots rock ‘n’ roll for over 30 years and his approach and sound on the 12 sturdy tracks of “3 Pears” is chock full of the rockin’ soul and painful ache we’ve come to love him for. It was a meeting with Beck Hanson (aka Beck) that got him back into the recording studio in the first place, and Beck turns up here as producer of two tracks. Elsewhere, Kid Rock collaborates on the album’s opener, “Take Hold Of My Heart,” a song that Yoakam began writing 19 years ago and sounds like an outtake from Bruce Springsteen’s “The River.” And no Yoakam album would be complete without at least one full-on honky-tonk cover, and “3 Pears’” offering is the Joe Maphis classic “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” which is probably better known to rock fans by the Flying Burrito Brothers recording. Elsewhere dashes of horn flourishes provide a soulful bed for “It’s Never Alright” to sleep in, Springsteen-ish bells light up the title track and Beatle-esque touches abound on “Long Way To Go,” adding up to a welcome return for Yoakam on “3 Pairs.”

Edited: September 22nd, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 8/13/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Just Started Hating Some People Today” by Beck

While it’s been four years since Beck released his last album, “Modern Guilt,” he has hardly been idle. In 2009 Beck started a website experiment called “Record Club” where he and other musicians would get together and cover an entire album in one day. The first one was “The Velvet Underground & Nico,” the second was “Songs Of Leonard Cohen” and the third and final one was Skip Spence’s “Oar.” Guests on these ventures included members of Sonic Youth, Wilco, MGMT, Devendra Banhart and Feist. While it was a cool novelty to hear these unreleased cover albums up on the web, fans had not heard a peep of new Beck-penned and performed material in quite some time. In fact, the only other high profile projects we had were production duties for Thurston Moore’s latest solo record “Demolished Thoughts” and Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks’ superb “Mirror Traffic” album. So it was with great anticipation when word came out that Beck would cut a single with Jack White at Third Man Records. This past May, the resultant two songs from the sessions were released as a single with this song as the A-side and a song called “Blue Randy” on the flip. While both songs are good, they are hardly a major statement from an artist so highly regarded for innovation. So here we are on the precipice of even more current happenings from the Beck camp when last week it was announced that Beck was ready to release a new 20-song album this December called “Song Reader.” Oh, but there is a catch…Beck is choosing to release the album only in sheet music form complete with full color art. So it will be in the hands of the fans to perform the songs before we get to hear the material for real.

Edited: August 12th, 2012

Song Of The Day – 10/21/11

Song Of The Day – “Pay No Mind” by Beck

Beck Hanson is one of the most original voices of the 1990s. He exploded onto the scene with his hit “Loser” from the album “Mellow Gold” but he’d released several excellent albums and singles before. This performance comes from MTV’s “120 Minutes.” The interview with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth is hilarious and can be viewed here.

Edited: October 21st, 2011

Song Of The Day – 10/10/11

Song Of The Day – “Brain Gallop” by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

I’ve been spinning Malkmus’ latest record, “Mirror Traffic” incessantly since it appeared in August and it has become clear that it is perhaps the best record I’ve heard all year. Record producer Beck Hanson (aka Beck) focused The Jicks’ to create a collection of succinct songs. He really doesn’t do them justice in concert….go out and get this record!

Edited: October 9th, 2011