The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
The Perpetual Three-Dot Column
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by Jesse Walker

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
FREE BECK: Beck, the most consistently interesting pop musician working today, has just released a new album, titled Sea Change. As Wilco did with
Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, he's allowing his fans to preview it for free on his website, in hopes that we will go on to buy the CD. It's a savvy move, and not just because you have to sign up for his e-mail list to hear the music: Speaking for myself, I've only made it to the album's fourth track, and I can't imagine myself not buying a copy.

Since I haven't heard the entire album, I won't attempt to review it, except to note that it seems to lean more toward Beck's folky/psychedelic side (with touches of country on "Guess I'm Doing Fine"). If, like me, you're mystified by Beck's recent conversion to Scientology, I suppose I should mention as well that I haven't noticed any covert propaganda for L. Ron Hubbard's sci-fi faith -- though, that said, I haven't been paying close attention to the lyrics, either.

As long as I'm on the subject, I'll say a few words about a Beck album that slipped by without many Americans noticing it. Like most rockers of his stature, Beck has produced his share of ephemera. Stray Blues both anthologizes this material -- the disc consists of eight previously uncollected B-sides -- and exemplifies it: For some reason, Geffen has released it only in Japan.

The songs themselves run the artist's usual gamut of influences, from psychedelia to hip hop to sheer noise. None are masterpieces, but almost all are enjoyable. The best may be "Burro," a novelty version of Beck's song "Jack-Ass" with the lyrics translated into Spanish and the music translated into mariachi.


posted by Jesse 6:44 PM
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