everybody drowns, sad and lonely

 

Beulah

 

Yet another of the Elephant 6 bands, and yet another 60s-influenced indie-pop group.

lineup: quite a few people, including Bill Evans (keyboards, joined after Heartstrings); Miles Kurosky (vocals, guitar); Steve LaFolette (bass); Patrick Noel (keyboards, guitar); Steve St. Cin (drums, apparently left after Heartstrings but is still credited in Coast); Danny Sullivan (the new drummer); Bill Swan (vocals, guitar, trumpet). with all those people, they must be pretty loud live.

review index: When Your Heartstrings Break / The Coast is Never Clear

missing albums: Handsome Western States


When Your Heartstrings Break - 1999

Rating: ****
Best songs: Score from Augusta, If We Can Land a Man on the Moon Surely I Can Win Your Heart, Emma Blowgun's Last Stand, Sunday Under Glass
Worst songs: n/a

 

Would you believe this is a lo-fi album with string and horn embellishments?

Well, believe it, it's true. Beulah's second album is also filled with catchy, hooky songs that sit on your brain and refuse to let go. Case in point: the opener "Score from Augusta" is a mix packed with instruments ranging from a Vox organ to New Order-esque guitar scratching to a percussive horn arrangement, and is about as fun as uhh...I dunno, something really fun. And the album just doesn't give up until the last song, "If We Can Land a Man on the Moon, Surely I Can Win Your Heart" has finished. Every bloody song on here is a winner, and if you don't believe me, fine, you can just sit there oblivious of this great band.

Is it me, or does the singing on "The Aristocratic Swells" sound like Paul Simon?


The Coast is Never Clear - 2001

Rating: ****
Best songs: A Good Man Is Easy to Kill, Gene Autry, What Will You Do When Your Suntan Fades?, Night is the Day Turned Inside-Out
Worst songs: nope

 

Still doin' it, this time with actual modernized production (of all things) this time -- the orange-and-red-dominated clip-art-esque cover should be a dead giveaway (in contrast to the dull grey and white of When Your Heartstrings Break) that this one's going to be more polished and stripped-down. Not to worry, though, there's still some nice touches here and there, arrangement-wise. The songs aren't as immediately catchy as the stuff on Heartstrings (except for the staggeringly great first four tracks), but there's still plenty of good material, including the loungey "What Will You Do When Your Suntan Fades?" and "Popular Mechanics for Lovers", including a sly reference to Stephin Merritt! How can you not like a record that references Stephin Merritt?! Buy this thing, you stingy mofo!

And I mean that in the nicest possible sense.


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