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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2006 | Interscope

Beck began work on 2006's The Information after Sea Change but before he reunited with the Dust Brothers for 2005's Guero, eventually finishing the album after Guero was generally acclaimed as a return to Odelay form. So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that The Information falls somewhere between those two records, at least on sonic terms. Musically, it's certainly a kindred spirit to Guero, meaning that it hearkens back to the collage of loose-limbed, quirky white-boy funk-rock and rap that brought Beck fame at the peak of the alt-rock revolution, with hints of the psychedelia of Mutations and the folk-rock that was the basis for Sea Change. Since this is a Nigel Godrich production, it's meticulous and precise even when it wants to give the illusion of spontaneity, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it also pulls the album into focus, something that the generally fine Guero could have used. Guero had many strengths, but its biggest weakness was the general sense that it was unfinished, a suspicion fostered by its endless issues in deluxe editions and remixes. Beck embraced these changes, most extravagantly on the cover of Wired, where he was hailing the future of the album, which would now no longer be seen as finished: it would be a project that covered a certain amount of time, the artist would package it one way, then listeners would offer their own spin. That is precisely what Guero turned out to be, so it would have made sense that The Information would run further down that field, particularly because it has a design-your-own-art for its cover and is supplemented by a DVD filled with quick-n-dirty videos for each of its songs. But Beck isn't so easily pigeonholed: as it turns out, The Information is far more of a proper album than Guero, coming fully equipped with recurring themes and motifs, feeling every bit the concept album Sea Change was. Credit might go partially to his collaboration with Godrich -- who is nothing if not a taskmaster, helping to sharpen and focus erratic talents like Paul McCartney and Stephen Malkmus (for good in the former, not as good in the latter) -- but this also feels like the work of a refocused Beck, who shook off the cobwebs by reuniting with the Dust Brothers, thereby getting his "return to Odelay form" notices out of the way, and then getting down to the real work here on The Information, as he tackles the hyper-saturated info-world of the new millennium here. If it initially seems like surprises are in short supply on The Information -- even when the tracks take a left turn, it doesn't feel like Beck and Godrich are wandering off the map -- the craft is strong and assured, and closer listens reveal the depth of the detail within the album, whether it's in the construction of the production or how those productions illuminate Beck's themes. Ever the obscurist, Beck's meanings aren't always crystal clear, which is no doubt deliberate, but his overall intent is easier to ascertain, especially when "Cellphone's Dead" juts up against "Nausea." There's a greater sense of craft here, and while craft isn't necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Beck, it's what happens when an eccentric sticks around for over a decade: he turns pro. He's done his exploring and now he's learning how to apply what he's discovered. While this may have the inevitable side effect of making his music a little less bracing and exciting, at least on first listen -- and that's especially true when he's in his pop chameleon mode as he is here, since it often seemed like his collages were quickly thrown together instead of immaculately assembled as they are here -- it nevertheless makes for a well-constructed, intriguing, and satisfying album, which The Information assuredly is. Upon first listen, it might seem to slide by a little bit on texture and sound instead of song, but that doesn't necessarily mean it feels even as groove-oriented and hip-hop-driven as Guero (let alone Midnite Vultures), despite the fact that many of the best tracks are built on muscular, intricate rhythms, like the dense, paranoid "Nausea" or the opening fanfare of "Elevator Music." But those further listens -- something that a neo-concept album like this demands anyway -- reveal the complexity within the productions, and how Beck is bridging the two sides of his personality, finding a common ground between his folk roots and art rock sides. All those little details give each cut a dramatic flow, and as the cuts pile up, they all add up to something. Like a picture where you have to stare intently to find the hidden item buried in a seas of colored dots, it can be far too easy on The Information to look at the individual dots and not see the big picture -- but at least here the dots are interesting in and of themselves. And if you give it time, The Information eventually reveals itself as Beck's tightest, most purposeful album yet. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

When all is said and done, Beck's Guero might be the quintessential album of 2005. Not the best, nor the one that captured the sound of the year, but the album that illustrates that in 2005, there was no such thing as a finished album -- that a set of songs could be packaged and repackaged in so many forms, it never really seems to exist as a finished work. That's because in the course of the year there were roughly five different incarnations of the album. At the beginning of the year, the unfinished album was leaked on the Internet, causing such a commotion that it was reviewed on the front page of Salon. A couple months later, the album was officially released as a 13-track edition, along with a greatly expanded 20-track special edition, containing a few remixes and several songs that didn't appear on the 13-track album but did appear on the leaked bootleg. Then, after a couple of import editions containing various bonus tracks, Guerolito appeared at the end of the year. Guerolito is a remix of the entire album, with each track being remixed by a different act, including Air, Boards of Canada, Octet, and Ad-Rock. Sometimes these songs bear different titles than their source material -- "E-Pro" became "Ghost Range," for instance; this practice was in place for the deluxe version of Guero as well -- and Guerolito itself had its own alternate edition, which was packaged and sequenced slightly differently from its main edition, plus an import with a bonus track. All this packaging and repackaging, mixing and remixing, titling and retitling has the effect of diluting a good set of songs by Beck -- there may be many ways of enjoying these songs, but having them exist in different physical and musical forms makes them harder to grasp, not easier to appreciate. And while the mixes on Guerolito are, by and large, good, they neither illuminate the original songs, nor do they offer much new -- they don't expand the songs, they still try to keep the basic structure in place, so it's not a good showcase for the remixers. Instead, they just reconfirm the suspicion that this set of songs was never quite finished or sequenced, it was just released. And while that may be a very 2005 experience, that doesn't mean that each grouping makes for satisfying listen. After all, given all the capabilities you have at home these days, why not make your own mixes and play lists of the Guero material? The deluxe edition of Guero even gives you the ability to remix it on your computer -- which means there may be many more versions than five of this album floating out there in the ether. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released June 18, 1996 | Interscope

As crazy as its cover art (a Komondor running hurdles), Odelay confirms Beck’s genius as an assembler. While Mellow Gold and its hit song Loser was defined by its thrifty, lo-fi style, Odelay boasts a more luxurious production. But the founding idea is the same: combining the uncombinable! Sexual funk, psychedelic rock, lewd country blues, old school rap, wonky folk, flashy easy listening, Beck mixes, matches and unmatches! The samples are just as wild with a blend of Van Morrison’s Them, Rare Earth, Mandrill, Mantronix, Sly Stone, Dick Hyman, Edgar Winter, Lee Dorsey, and a few others… Despite these unlikely combinations, Odelay has its own identity. Yet another gem based on a healthy anti-rut philosophy. Indeed, Beck is not only a mad scientist when it comes to sound, but also a genuine songwriter at heart. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 14, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2004 | DGC

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 17, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1998 | DGC

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According to party line, neither Beck nor Geffen ever intended Mutations to be considered as the official follow-up to Odelay, his Grammy-winning breakthrough. It was more like One Foot in the Grave, designed to be an off-kilter, subdued collection of acoustic-based songs pitched halfway between psychedelic country blues and lo-fi folk. The presence of producer Nigel Godrich, the man who helmed Radiohead's acclaimed OK Computer, makes such claims dubious. Godrich is not a slick producer, but he's no Calvin Johnson, either, and Mutations has an appropriately clean, trippy feel. There's little question that with the blues, country, psych, bossa nova, and folk that comprise it, Mutations was never meant to be a commercial endeavor -- there's no floor-shaker like "Where It's At," and it doesn't trade in the junk culture that brought Odelay to life. Recording with his touring band -- marking the first time he has entered the studio with a live band -- does result in a different sound, but it's not so much a departure as it is a side road that is going in the same direction. None of the songs explore new territory, but they're rich, lyrically and musically. There's an off-the-cuff wit to the songwriting, especially on "Canceled Check" and "Bottle of Blues," and the performances are natural, relaxed, and laid-back, without ever sounding complacent. In fact, one of the nifty tricks of Mutations is how it sounds simple upon the first listen, then reveals more psychedelic layers upon each play. Beck is not only a startling songwriter -- his best songs are simultaneously modern and timeless -- he is a sharp record-maker, crafting albums that sound distinct and original, no matter how much they may borrow. In its own quiet, organic way, Mutations confirms this as much as either Mellow Gold or Odelay. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 23, 2018 | Capitol Records, LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Rock - Released September 24, 2019 | Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released March 15, 2018 | Capitol Records (CAP)

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 5, 2013 | Fonograf Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 7, 2019 | Capitol Records

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Ambient/New Age - Released December 7, 2018 | Geffen

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Rock - Released January 1, 2005 | Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 21, 2016 | Capitol Records (CAP)

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 17, 2013 | Fonograf Records

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Rock - Released March 14, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released July 4, 2005 | Interscope

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Rock - Released January 1, 2004 | Interscope

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