Friday Night Boredom Post Go!
The bender that I said I was going on yesterday hasn't really come off. I can't seem to shake this bloody migraine (it's okay readers, I'm sat in front of the laptop with a lamp just in front of me to the left. That's supposed to ward off eye strain, isn't it?), so I'm putting it off until next week, methinks.
So, as I'm bored and waiting for the new series of QI to start on BBC Two, I thought I'd pass the time by passing judgement on a couple of new records, warding you off from one and pleading with you to buy the other.
There's a certain section of music fans who just don't have time for Beck. I'm not one of them. In fact, I fucking love the guy so much that Beck is my second choice of name for my first-born son (the first choice being Evan, as in Dando. Yes, I really do think about things like this). The perceived notion amongst Beck-haters is that he's a clown and a charlatan who slips from skin to skin, never really coming across as being at ease in any he's tried on, from ersatz hip-hopper to folk troubadour via Prince-like sex-funker.
Now, I'm of the opinion that he's pretty much excelled at everything he's tried his hand at. I even liked last year's Guero, so it's with a heavy heart that I impart to you that Beck's new album, The Information just isn't very good.
The world-weary impassivity and laconic delivery that he's perfected, often making him sound like he's just that little bit removed from the song, here just sounds like laziness. His heart just isn't in it. Whereas his laidback nature has, in the past, been complemented by some seriously vital and alive pop songs, on The Information, the songs, in the main, just sound half-arsed, even unfinished at times ('1000 BPM', 'Nausea'). At worst, they just sound like paler versions of better songs from past albums and at best, they're fill-in album tracks.
I had to listen to this three times before anything really caught my ear and that was the Air-like highlight, 'Soldier Jane'. There was talk of this being a hip-hop album, but no-one in their right mind would get Nigel Godrich in to produce a hip-hop album. Seriously, what does this guy bring to records? I can't hear it. Everything here seems a little muted, as opposed to jumping out of the speakers and demanding your attention. Also elements of songs seem to work at cross-purposes from each other, making a lot of tracks sound jumbled and chaotic when there's really no need for them to be.
Sadly, just when Beck should be reaching the stage of his career when he's relaxing and making records that he wants to make, it seems that he's made a record here that people expect him to make. In doing so, he's made the first truly poor album of his career. It's just got really hard to look past that whole Scientology thing all of a sudden.
Beck - Soldier Jane (mp3)
DC Recordings has been in operation for the last ten years now, started up by J. Saul Kane as an imprint on which to release his Depth Charge output. It's only been in the last couple of years that the label has come into its own though, releasing records by artists like Padded Cell, The Emperor Machine, White Light Circus and, well, you can have a look at the sleeve above to see who else.
Now seemed like the best time to release a compilation then. So they have and it's absolutely excellent. There's a certain aesthetic that DC Recordings seem to have pioneered lately. One that's not too dissimilar to the sound of labels like Rong Music, Feedelity and Whatever We Want, but eschews beardy Balearica for something that's altogether more 'out-there'.
In short, everything that DC have released over the last about three years sounds like it was beamed in from outer space and had some kind of Event Horizon-style trauma on the way here. Darkness pervades the robo-funk, with each track on Death Before Distemper sounding like it might erupt into violence at any given moment. It's this tension that makes this compilation so thrilling. You must go into your local record emporium tomorrow and sacrifice ten English pounds to own this.
In the meantime...