Monday, September 22, 2008

Why Aren't You Listening to Beck Right Now?

94 was a crazy one. Lorena Bobbit copped to insanity, Jeff Gillooly and Tonya Harding both pleaded guilty. Schindler's List swept at the Oscars and Kurt Cobain ended it all. Oh, and don't forget about OJ. The climate was perfect for Beck's hit, Loser, off his first album Mellow Gold. Moody, melodic and completely insane, Beck was strange, dark, and twisted, but tons of fun to listen to. The whole album was filled with bizarre ranting gems like Fuckin' With My Head and Truck Driving Neighbors Downstairs so catchy you'd find yourself singing along.

Most people go through an evolution as a music listener. You grew up on heavy doses of educational/non-threatening happy music - Raffi, School House Rock, etc. Also, if you were lucky, your parents had good taste. The Doors, Stones, Moody Blues, Clapton, and of course, the greatest song in the history of Rock N' Roll: AQUALUNG.

Eventually you start to branch out and find that you have your own opinion. This usually involves some sort of rebellion, no matter how small. The big eye opener for me was Dr. Dre's The Chronic. I remember sitting on the train to Seattle with my Babe Ruth baseball team listening to a borrowed tape of the album and having a major eye-opening experience. I wouldn't say I was sheltered, just tragically naive (oh, and I had a mullet - that's right, sitting on the train, rocking my mullet and mesh backed baseball cap about 12 years pre-Kutcher, bumping Nothin' But a G Thang). But that album did it for me and I realized there was a lot more out there than my parent's music collection. Granted, much of my early exploration was fairly clandestine as the black and white PARENTAL ADVISORY sticker was a death sentence for a disc in our house, but my growth as a music fan was on.

As usual, I have strayed from the original point of this post, which is to proclaim that Beck is among the best, most prolific and creative artists of the 15 or so years that I can claim to be a music lover. With each new album, Beck has continued to grow and reinvent himself - staying relevant, but also intensely creative, diverse and ambitous. He's strayed in and out of pop genres and had the obligatory celeb meltdowns and obsessions (hello Scientology). He also avoided becoming Dave Matthews (15 years, 9 studio albums completely indistinguishable from one another) or Smashing Pumpkins (reinvented themselves right out of mega stardom and their fan base) or REM (still cranking out albums but who cares?).

This year's release Modern Guilt not only lives up to expectations, but is immediately in the running for the QLE's annual top-10 albums of the year (a prestigious award I am sure he had in mind while in the studio). MG is 10 songs of pure pleasure. It's weird, varying in mood, blusey and and trés modérn. Danger Mouse's production is a phenomenal contribution and plays perfectly into the feel of the album as a whole. My personal fav, Youthless features a catchy, repetitive bass
"There's a bottomless pit that we've been climbing from
Just to get on level ground
Shake your seasick legs around
Dead of winter in a logo town
Signs of life are soft and flickering"
It all works swimmingly and the Beck/Danger Mouse pairing reveals itself to be the obvious answer to a question only too recently asked. Get it, rock it, and continue your evolution as a music fan.

1 comment:

Cross said...

Why am i not listening? because hes a scientologist.

same reason i won't watch tom cruise movies.