Friday, February 29, 2008

Black Swan Network - Grains And Sauces

(Happy Happy Birthday To Me, 2000)

Black Swan Network had previously existed as a side vehicle for the Olivia Tremor Control to fully indulge its avant-garde leanings (collages, field recordings, drones), but here there’s a song-based approach that sticks closer to the parent group’s sound than did past BSN releases. Interestingly, the listed lineup is all of the Olivia Tremor Control minus Bill Doss, which is essentially what would become the Circulatory System by the following year – so really this EP is, in terms of personnel and musical ideas, a bridge between the OTC and the Circulatory System. Without input from the sunny Doss, it’s darker and druggier than Dusk at Cubist Castle or Black Foliage, while still utilizing the fragmented, cut-and-paste pop style heard on those discs. This is a tentative step towards the first Circulatory album; the basic elements are all in place (even lyrically), there just isn’t the dense, hyper-layered production yet. “Grains and Sauces” is a suitably psychedelic opener, with tape loops, tinkling xylophone, and that familiar clarinet over a groovy drumbeat. The rest of the record is crawling, clattering dream-music that keeps picking up and falling apart, Will Hart’s breathy vox swooping in from time to time to anchor a song. It’s an intriguing listen, and quite jam-packed for a 45; obscure as all heck, but worth finding if you can. Supposedly exists with a black cover as well.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Love Burns

(Virgin, 2001)

These guys often have their biographical wagon hitched to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, since Peter Hayes was apparently a BJM member at some point. But while both bands are image-conscious leather-jacket types mining similar guitar-rock eras, Brian Jonestown at least had and has the strong material to back it all up. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, unfortunately, comes off as a bunch of lunkheaded (though rather likeably lunkheaded, I’ll admit) styloids more interested in being IN a rock band than actually being a GOOD rock band. It’s pretty paint-by-numbers: the vocals are JAMC cool, the dum-dum lyrics go for a vaguely druggy intensity, the guitars crunch when you expect them to crunch and swirl when you expect them to swirl. This 2x7” even contains a double-shot bid for soulful authenticity with “Down Here” – which, yes, features bluesy harmonica – and the sub-Spiritualized-isms of “Salvation” (“So Jesus left you lonely…”). I suppose BRMC was filling a void in the big so-called “garage revival” earlier this decade, standing in as the dangerous, psychedelically-inclined rawkers, and there’s no reason to begrudge them that; they’re not BAD, after all. The shtick is ultimately inoffensive, and it’s undeniable they do cause a toe to tap (“Love Burns”) or a head to nod (“Salvation”) every now and then, but could anyone actually love this band?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Black Mountain - Stormy High

(Suicide Squeeze, 2006)

Golly, nice work, everyone. “Stormy High” is doomy – yet somehow bouncy?! – riffery over a martial beat, plus jaunty Floydian keys that prog things up further… wowzers. Music for longhairs: scalp & chin! Melodic sense comin’ out the nostrils, and just enough technical know-how on display to impress without being Too Much or Too Slick. There’s a general fidelity to the freakrock cause in the Black Mountain camp, but don’t ignore, chartwatching friends, the fact that those male/female vox, especially on “Voices,” hew awful close to NASA-country fuggers Oakley Hall, them being no slouch at writin’ a good one themselves. And certainly don’t forget that neither of these tracks pop up in the same version elsewhere, so pull whatever you need to pull to palm a copy. Got to admit I never thought Black Mountain would top the rolling bong-nut grooviness of “Druganaut,” but they make a purty damn good run at it on both sides of this one, and – know what? – the total package wins in the end. No bum notes here.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Black Flag - Six Pack

(SST, 1982)

Three tightly-wound shouters that pound on past in about two pissed-off minutes each. It’s catchy negativity with raw Cardena vox, squealing Ginn leads, and rudimentary drumming that succeeds simply by pushing it all forward. A strong record, and quite an entertaining one to boot. So why am I not a bigger Black Flag fan? The lyrics are smart and funny, the general attitude is appealing, and I like the singing and the guitar… what’s wrong? At first I lazily assumed it was a “hadta be there” deal, but that’s clearly not true because I have plenty of friends who love the band and who definitely were not “there.” Back to the drawing board went my brain, and what I figger now is that because I didn’t investigate Black Flag very deeply when I was in my mid-teens, I’m now just incapable of GETTING IT. This kind of mad-at-everything musical machine-gunning is tailor-made for youngsters, and that’s in no way intended as a slap; these guys had it DOWN and did it really, really well. But coming at the material at my advanced age (I recently turned 63), I just can’t click with it on the visceral gut-level it demands. Now, the Wipers’ Is This Real record is one of my all-time favorites, and I wonder sometimes whether I would have been repelled by its overwrought emotional juvenilia – despite its incredible pop smarts – had I first encountered it as a “grown-up” rather than as a middle-schooler… Dunno, but I suspect that that gets to the heart of my ambivalence towards BF. Am I wrong?? Am I just a Black Flag-hating asshole? A square? Do I not own the right records? Is there one that would totally convince me that these guys were the cat’s pajamas (that’s what kids say, right?)? What do you think?? TELL ME NOW!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Black Dice - Peace In The Valley

(Three One G, 2001)

I’ve seen some lousy Black Dice shows. I’ve heard some lousy Black Dice records. But there have been enough hints of quality over the years – like those ten minutes of dense dub-style percussion during an otherwise grim set last summer! – to keep me coming back for more. “Peace in the Valley” reminds me that this is folly on my part. Packaged with a 40-page book of artwork – !! – the single is a directionless mess of beats and blats, occasionally impressing through sheer noise-muscle, but more often infuriating with its lack of focus. The A-side’s drum-machine gallop and arhythmic guitar (synth?) scratches never build into anything worthwhile; there’s some tension there, but it’s allowed to dissipate as the song toddles along with its predictable “noise rock” moves. “Ball” is at least a slight improvement, featuring some interesting beats and obnoxious electronic vomitry that bludgeons the way it oughta. Still: nothing you can’t hear pulled off far more effectively by other groups. Far cheaper, too, as the extravagant packaging on this thingy sees to it that your wallet gets punished as much as your ears do. I WANT TO LIKE YOU, BLACK DICE, BUT IT’S JUST NOT WORKING OUT.

The Birds - Let's Do The Velvets!

(Important, 2005)

Those responsible for DOING THE VELVETS here are Cotton Casino, from Acid Mothers Temple, and a guy named Per Gisle Galaen, from parts unknown. While a full album did follow, the single’s pair of homey, safe covers pretty much screams “side project”... and that’s fine, but it’s hard to recommend this record too heartily to anyone outside of VU fetishists and Acid Mothers completists. Both songs are competently performed, and have a fragility to them that is a nice contrast to the usual rawk ’n’ grime that folks like to associate with the Velvet Underground catalog. No reason to get excited though; these aren’t radical rethinks or revelatory interpretations. It’s pleasant, and that’s about it.

Cotton Casino, like Nico before her, doesn’t have the world’s greatest English, which is a little distracting on “Femme Fatale,” where the vocals are right up front. But credit the Birds for putting together a solid musical arrangement on this one: a churchy keyboard picks out the chords, and a noisy guitar comes sweeping in towards the end, adding Cale-esque texture and volume. “Here She Comes Now” sticks close enough to the original to largely render itself pointless, though it does have a more psychedelic, droning feel that serves the song well. There are no real complaints to be made about this disc, but, in the end, there’s just not enough here to convince me that I should be listening to The Birds’ versions rather than my old VU records. You know?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Big Black - Il Duce

(Touch and Go, 1992)

I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life – eight of them, I believe – and none were as embarrassing as my not realizing that single was first released in 1985, meaning I should have reviewed it before the other two Big Black records. Where was Wikipedia when I needed it most? I dunno, but I DO know it was there when I needed it to accurately diagnose my excruciating foot ailment. “Plantar fasciitis,” it said a week ago, and “Plantar fasciitis,” a podiatrist confirmed this morning. And this doctor wasn’t excited about listening to me or examining me, but he WAS excited to shoot a bunch of cortisone into my foot with a big ol’ needle. You fixed me but good, doc, and I even did a little lunchtime jig on my drugged-up hoof. Which brings us right back to Big Black, because this single of theirs is dedicated to Benito Mussolini, who I hear was – ready for this one? – a real HEEL. Haw! Oh man, it was worth it, the whole set up was worth it! Just like this 7” is worth whatever you pay for it: it’s AOK! Meaty drum machine (that thing ALWAYS sounded fantastic and brutal); distorted guitar splinters that move through and around each other in interesting melodies; effects-laden Li’l Satan vocals; that black sense of humor (“I am Benito/And I like my job”)…it’s all here. “Il Duce” is grinding menace while “Big Money” goes for a faster sort of white-knuckled nervousness, but both get the job done with impressive economy, pummeling you for about two minutes before stopping dead. As solid a representation of Big Black as you’re gonna find – and the A-side isn’t widely available otherwise – so why not pony up?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Big Black - He's A Whore

(Touch and Go, 1987)

It’s covers aplenty (two) on each and every side (two) of this single. Squealing shards o’ guitar over that piledriving rhythmic chunka-chunka turns Cheap Trick’s “He’s a Whore” into something a whole lot uglier than it usedta be AND GOOD GRAVY STEVE ALBINI DRESSED AS ROBIN ZANDER IS A DEAD RINGER FOR DAVID LEE ROTH. Yikes! Wow! WEIRD! All right, I’ve calmed down. EXCEPT WAIT THAT GUY ON THE LEFT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE MY HIGH SCHOOL CHEMISTRY LABMATE WHO LATER GOT THROWN IN THE CLINK FOR TRYING TO TAKE AN UNDERAGED BOY OVER STATE LINES!! SHEESH! OK. OK. OK. I think I’m done now. I am. So: “The Model” gets the distorto-fuzz treatment on the B, and the looser, noisier approach brings out the lyrics’ near-contempt for the vapid subject – something that is rather lost in Kraftwerk’s icy original. This is a gimmicky disc in both content and wrapper, sure, but an entertaining enough detour into tributetown to earn a salute from these quarters.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Big Black - Heartbeat

(Touch and Go, 1987)

I saw the Big Black reunion show in Chicago a few years ago, and I remember two things, one general and one specific. General memory: The music was totally intense and tightly-wound. Specific memory: Some guy yelled, “Albini, you’re a fuckin’ fag!,” really, really loudly. Anyway, it was all exciting enough to light a fire under my wallet and get me to finally buy up the entire discography as quickly as I could. Good thing, too, cuz these discs are a swift kick to every buttock that encounters ’em, each one a nasty little addition to your record heap. Take this single, for example, which rocks its shit in three distinct ways. “Heartbeat,” a Wire cover, isn’t as grinding as most Big Black material; this one is all about jagged, slashing guitar that’s rhythmic enough to approach chug, though unlike the Wire version, the effect is less a heartbeat than it is a jackhammer. Might as well point out that when he works himself up into a howling frenzy, Albini’s shredded vocal on here is startlingly Cobain-esque. Pre-Cobain. We’re on more familiar turf with the pounding, near-industrial relentlessness of “Things to Do Today,” but I’ll dock the band a few points for those tinny vocals, which don’t nearly pull their weight as they get overwhelmed by the muscular musical backing. Then, to wrap things up, it’s a quick burst of metallic rockabilly instrumental fun (“I Can’t Believe”), which, while tight, feels like a throwaway rehearsal jam. An impressively varied single, this, all of it heavy in different fashions… like a bully that can kick you around in new and creative ways every day of the week. Oh, and remember, you: It’s all compiled on The Rich Man’s Eight Track Tape, so that’s probably the most efficient way to get your mitts on this stuff.

Chuck Berry - My Ding-A-Ling

(Chess, 1972)

Look, I’ll say it: This is an idiotic song. Really. A lousy live recording that features a lot of unfunny onstage asides from Chuck Berry, snatches of ugly guitarwork, and a tuneless audience sing-along during the choruses. All of which would be fine if the double-entendre around which the song revolves – “I want to play with my ding-a-ling”…you figure it out – was actually clever or entertaining. But it isn’t. This is exhausting and cringe-worthy, a failure as a novelty record and an especially creepy bit of sleaze coming from a guy known for sexual weirdness. Still, I betcha I would’ve loved this when I was, oh... ten?

The B-side is a live version of “Johnny B. Goode” that cooks quite nicely, even if it does have a faint odor of just-going-through-the-motions about it. Berry’s vocals are ragged, but his raw screech propels the song and lends it an air of excitement that is certainly missing from the flip. The real highlight comes at the end, as we hear the emcee plead with the revved-up crowd to vacate the auditorium after Berry leaves the stage, as they’re preventing the next act from starting. That act? Pink Floyd! Ha! The old wave stickin’ it to the new!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Belle & Sebastian - White Collar Boy

(Rough Trade, 2006)

I happen to enjoy the snow, which is lucky cuz we’re havin’ a real humdinger here in New York City right now. Woo-ee! This is one wintry mix I’ll not soon forget! Time to warm my ears next to one last Belle and Sebastian single… let’s see… it’s… let me find it… ah, yes: “White Collar Boy.” This has an easy gait that’s quite reminiscent of B&S oldie “The Boy With the Arab Strap,” though it, like “The Blues are Still Blue,” stomps along much more sexily, even edging its way towards glam territory in those bursts of squealing guitar. And a special tip of the cap to the excellent – and entertaining – use of backing vocals, a strength throughout the Life Pursuit era. Showing once again that the band’s influences range wider than we might’ve guessed, Rod Stewart scores the cover treatment on the reverse with a dignified, horn-laced “Baby Jane” that was recorded live for Sirius. Stuart Murdoch’s aching vocal may or may not be a Rod impersonation, but it works perfectly in the context of the music and lyrics… even if you do decide to chuckle. An unlikely winner, and hands-down the best B-side of the recent singles.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Belle & Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue

(Rough Trade, 2006)

Whu?! A sleazy near-growl and some easy-listen T-Rex slinkiness? Guess these old dawgs got a few new tricks up in their sleevebags! “The Blues are Still Blue” rolls along with a wink and a leer, and way out-funks earlier glammy attempts like “I’m a Cuckoo” (“funk” of course being a relative term in the B&S crooniverse). An affable little novelty that’s practically begging for radio love. The B-side has a rare cover, a smooth, laid-back take on that musty standard “Whiskey in the Jar” – that being, as everyone knows, a number that the Irish STOLE from Metallica and claimed as their very own folk song. Which was a lowdown move, but not nearly as bad as when the Albanians took “…And Justice For All” and tried to pretend it was part of their national tradition stretching back to medieval times. Oh, and don’t even get me started on Finns singing that “Gimme fuel gimme fire” song at all of their cultural celebrations. Why, I could rail all night.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Belle & Sebastian - Funny Little Frog

(Rough Trade, 2005)

Until The Life Pursuit, Belle and Sebastian had kept a remarkably tidy discography. You had your albums and you had your EPs and that was it. No spreading of B-sides across multi-part singles and pricey import editions (with a few minor exceptions, like the extended “Judy is a Dick Slap” on the “Legal Man” 12”). So imagine how I cursed the heavens when, in 2005, the band started releasing singles with different tracks on different formats… now a guy needs to buy a CD, a 7”, and a DVD in order to collect all the latest B-sides. So it goes. Luckily my wallet is so fat.

Belle and Sebastian’s arrangements have become ever more intricate over the years – especially since their work on the Storytelling soundtrack – and the bright, brassy “Funny Little Frog” continues the trend. The upbeat, sophisticated Hazlewoodisms heard here are miles from the fragile acoustic sobfests that characterized the earliest B&S records; this is a fun, attention-grabbing pop hit. Stuart Murdoch has also widened his lyrical scope significantly since the late ’90s and, in the process, become quite the humorist; this song, for example, is sung from the perspective of a fellow who “dates” a girl who is perfect but doesn’t actually know him. Clever stuff, ol’ Stuart! Rough times on the flip, where it’s hard to care too much about “The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House, ” a track that seems to be about an Israeli-Palestianian cross-cultural love affair and is driven by an almost Latin beat. Musically, it doesn’t fit in with the rest of the era’s material, and it’s appropriate that it has been relegated to B-side status. Still, it’s certainly not the strongest song with which to usher in the era in which completists are expected to shell out for every B&S import 7” to hit the racks…

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Bee Gees - I Started A Joke

(RSO, 1974)

Well, I get around with a cane now. I have sustained some mysterious injury to my left foot that has made walking almost impossible, necessitating the purchase of a handsome aluminum cane that helps me hobble here and there about the town. But despite the prestige and air of distinction the walking stick gives me, this is an annoying – not to mention painful – state of affairs. And to make matters worse, here’s another one of these damned Mexican EPs. As usual, it’s a seemingly random grab-bag of tracks, this time drawing from 1968 (two songs), 1970, and 1972. Old faves “Words” and “I Started a Joke” get trotted out for the zillionth go-round, though it’s always nice to hear Robin’s ultra-dramatic and lyrically bizarre “…Joke” again and again. “Run to Me” and “Don’t Forget to Remember” are, for good reason, lesser-known hits. The former sees the Bee Gees in their early-’70s rut, churning out overwrought melancholia that crawls by at a snail’s pace with little of the charm or interesting arrangements heard on past material. “Don’t Forget to Remember” is an awkward attempt at a country-flavored heartbreak ballad, further hobbled by its gooey strings. All of these songs are easily found elsewhere, and the sleeve isn’t even interesting; why own this? Good question! OK, now here’s one for all of the podiatrists in the crowd: What does it mean when there is an excruciating, stabbing pain in the arch of your foot every time you put any weight on it?

Bee Gees - Lamplight

(Polydor, 1973)

Ready for a dull review? Released in Mexico while the band’s snooze-inducing Life in a Tin Can was busy tanking, this is an odds-and-ends EP that plucks love songs from 1967 (“To Love Somebody”), 1969 (“Lamplight”), and 1971 (“How Can You Mend a Broken Heart”). The grandiose “Lamplight” is dominated by Robin’s high-pitched warble, with bright-sounding acoustic guitars and syrupy strings underneath. The payoff when the beautiful chorus hits makes it worth a listen, but the song just isn’t that memorable or well-constructed; here, orchestral ambition has made the fellas forget that you need to keep things tight and coherent (a problem on much of the Odessa album from which this is taken). Adult soft-pop is the name of the game on “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” a delicate little wimpfest that might have one of the group’s best melodies ever. Deservedly a big smash, so why not weep to it tonight when you’re all alone? The stylistic hodge-podge continues with a shockingly mature track from the band’s first album, the white-as-fuck soul of “To Love Somebody.” Gold star for Barry, who gives a sassy performance that has more than a whiff of the distinctive vocal style he’d develop in the mid-’70s. Ought to mention as well that Eric Burdon and the Animals recorded a histrionic, seven-minute cover of this one in the late ’60s for their Love Is album. Find it and soak your ears in self-indulgence!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bee Gees - Words EP

(Polydor, 1968)

Ah, the early Bee Gees. Look no further if you seek the “at” at which it’s at! This stuff is consistently outstanding, and it should blow away whatever early-80s popular-culture disco-backlash hangover might still be foolishly coloring your preconceptions of the group. The Bee Gees were a fairly democratic five-piece in their early days – the Gibbs plus Vince Melouney and Colin Petersen – and while they very much wrote for the pop market/charts, they typically brought an intense sense of drama and seriousness to their weird little tunes, most of which were heavily orchestrated with an odd chamber-psych sound. Love songs about death row? “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.” Upbeat songs about alcoholism? “Indian Gin and Whisky Dry.” Songs about being buried alive? “New York Mining Disaster 1941.” AND SO FORTH! They mighta dressed every track to the nines (TENS?!?) in strings, horns, and xylophones, but the melodies and harmonies were ALWAYS beautifruggingtardedly memorable. Always!

And sure nuff, this Portugese EP sees the kiddies hitting their stride with four lush, ambitious, feelings-drenched mini-soaps, two of which are from the Horizontal LP, two of which are non-album. “Words” is just piano and a pleading Barry vocal before, at the second verse, swelling into a tasteful full-orchestra arrangement that is pretty enough and sweet enough to tamp down what would otherwise be quite reasonable accusations of appalling sappiness. In a similarly maudlin vein, droning organ and strings underpin a more mournful Barry on “With the Sun in My Eyes,” which is perhaps as psychedelic a lovelorn croonfest as ever you’ll hear. Then it’s time for more emotional sun-fun with “And the Sun Will Shine,” a slightly rockier ballad – in the drums, primarily – this time featuring Robin’s quivering lead. But! BUT! The TOTAL EARTH-SHATTERING MASTERPIECE on here is the rousing “Sinking Ships,” which has a beefy pre-Fridmann – dig them bells – arrangement, cryptic yet moving lyrics, and soaring vocals (when they up the volume and break into that “Take a look inside myself…” bit: YOW!). This was a B-side?! Generosity, thy name is Gibb!! Which is precisely why you oughta right now be buying Rhino’s reissues of the first three Bee Gee albums, each of which includes a full disc of outtakes and non-LP rarities. Rethink everything you ever pre-thunk once you spin these thingies! Solid gold. Bee Gees? More like BEE’S KNEES!!!!

Look, I tried. It’s late.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Beck - Cellphone's Dead

(Interscope, 2006)

Sleek, well-produced robo-funk on “Cellphone’s Dead” that stakes out a stylistic middle-ground of sorts between Midnite Vultures and Odelay. The song is even bookended by a rolling, faintly tropical percussion-based jam that recalls the Mutations era. Appealing on paper, perhaps, but there’s no strong hook anywhere, and the track, not the best choice for a single, has simply never grabbed me. It’s actually a perfect example of the type of inoffensive mediocrity that Beck is prone to churning out these days… I don’t mind the song while it’s playing – might even enjoy it – but once the needle lifts I’ve already forgotten it and feel no need to play the thing again.

However, let’s give credit where it’s due: “O Menina” (which appears on some versions of the album as a bonus track) is fun; it’s a hand-clappin’, cowbell-clankin’ half-rap that grooves a whole lot looser than anything Beck has done in years, even if it is far too brief. Proof the dude can still pull it off from time to time.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Beck - Girl

(Interscope, 2005)

It occurs to me that my apartment has smelled of smoke for about 24 hours. It further occurs to me that my building burning down, with me and all my possessions in it, would seriously “cramp my style” when it comes to reviewing all of these crazy 7”s. Let me go sniff around.

[five minutes later] Good news: I’m back, and no more crispy than I was at the beginning of this review! No sign of a blaze, so I guess it must’ve just been one H*CK of a Super Bowl party – grillin’ and everything – by my downstairs neighbors. Hey, don’t ever stop a-rockin’, downstairs neighbors of mine! I know you won’t! NEVER!

Yeah, so… Beck.

The thing is, I don’t DISLIKE Guero or The Information. Honest. But I don’t – and can’t – LOVE them, either. See, you can use “crafted” as either a compliment or a sort of sneering insult, and both senses of the word apply to those records; Beck was putting a tremendous amount of effort and care into his songs, but while he was creating superficially pleasant music, most of it lacked the rollicking charm of his earlier material and was ultimately flabby and forgettable (betcha you can hum, say, seven songs off of Odelay. Can you do that for Guero or The Information??). What’s funny about that is it makes SINGLES the optimal way to experience latter-day Beck: Removed from the sonic Kansas of his endlessly-tinkered-with LPs, individual songs do have a chance to distinguish themselves as nifty little self-contained pop nuggets. “Girl” is definitely one of ’em. Those pop smarts are sharp as ever, the singing is strong, there’s the Dust Brother ultra-layered mix of homey/lo-fi guitar and blippy electronics over a locked-in beat… I mean, it’s all kinda over-perfect, but the melody is strong, and while, yeah, it all reeks of teacher-pleasin’ gymnastics, in the end it still scores a respectable B- or so. Sticks in the cranium for a while!

Oh, and remixes? OF COURSE! The skittery Octet version on the flip adds nervous percussive elements that, interestingly, illuminate some of the buried insecurity of the lyrics, but it’s musically unfocused, doesn’t sustain listenability, and is in no way built for repeated plays. Thing shows up on the Guerolito remix LP anyway, so no need to get too hot for this 7”, unless picture discs hold some sort of special fascination.

By which I mean: Do they? Is that your thing? Let’s meet!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Beck - Mixed Bizness

(Geffen, 2000)

Beck kinda lost me around this time, as his songs started disappearing within the overstuffed production and the fun seemed more and more forced. “Mixed Bizness” is a sleek funk party jam, but it all feels cold, empty, professional. There was a ramshackle goofiness, a discernable personality, on his earlier work, lost now under the relentless lover-man posturing and studio craftsmanship (even though I do laugh at that “Pour champagne on a honeybee” line). Much worse is the unnecessary “Dirty Bixin Mixness” version on the B-side – I doubt any Beck song was remixed more times and with less rewards than “Mixed Bizness” – which brings the percussion to the forefront and makes it sound like, uh, a Fatboy Slim single. Pass.