Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Final Grade: B-

This wasn't my favorite record.  While Beck's Morning Phase was a well written, cohesive record, said cohesiveness became monotonous for me.  Pretty much every song on the record sounded the same.  They all had acoustic guitar with layered, ambient vocals, and sometimes strings came in to add some dynamics.  Beck's vocal harmonies and the string arrangements were definitely my favorite aspect of the album, they gave a lot of depth for the often simple groove.  But I was yearning to be inspired by this Album of the Year, and I didn't get much from it.  Not only that, but it didn't seem like anything that was very fresh or new, whereas BeyoncĂ© single-handedly changed the game with BeyoncĂ©.  That being said, Morning Phase is still a pleasant, sweet album that I did for the most part enjoy, just not Album of the Year worthy in my book.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Turn Away

Country Down

Waking Light

Songs of the Day

Final 3 songs up for review today: "Turn Away," "Country Down," and "Waking Light."
"Turn Away" falls right back into the standard vibe of this record: layered, ambient vocals with acoustic guitar that steadily builds.  Beck certainly has this formula down.  The build, provided by the addition of instruments, has a nice feel to it.  There's a subtle darkness to this groove, which I think can mainly be attributed to the play with major and minor going on, which I dig.  As always, the string arrangement is very nice, adding a nice texture to the sound.  Short and sweet, nothing to go crazy about.
As guessed by the title, "Country Down" has the most down-home country feel to it.  This is the only track on the record that doesn't have any vocal effects, which is refreshing.  I believe it also helps give it a more country feel, as you're not hearing a lot of country that has the ambient vocals that have been occurring on the rest of the record.  And nothing says country like some pedal steel guitar, which I do love.  It's a little hokey, but in the endearing, country kind of way.   This track could have been a little shorter, it gets a little redundant.  Like I've said for the majority of this record, it's a sweet tune, simple, sounds like the rest of the record.
"Waking Light" is a solid way to end the record, it has a finite sound to it that's ideal for ending records.  It has all of the elements of the rest of the record: the layered vocals, the instrumental build, strings in the chorus, the whole shebang.  Again, the strings help the record a lot, as the provide good dynamics and depth to the track.  There's an ethereal feel to the song that's cool, which has a lot to do with the background vocals layered with the strings, it's easy to get lost in.  The best part of this song is the build to the end, all of the layers work really well together and they keep you interested in the track.  There's a bigger emphasis on the drums than there has been on the rest of the record, and while it certainly helps the build, the drum part itself is could have been much better (it sounds a little mediocre).  This is a pretty solid song on its own, but after hearing the same sound for an entire record, it gets a little old.  It's all about the build, it saves the day.