My name is Josh Beech y’all. I just moved to Birmingham on Halloween. I’m an easily excitable person. And thanks to the Internet (maybe you’ve heard of it), there are plenty of things to get excited about. Too many, even. On a regular basis I see, read, hear, and learn things that blow my mind while my mind is shitting its pants. In other words, this is a column about things that give my mind a blumpkin. Intermittently, I will chime in with whatever I find, like a dog with a dead bird on your doorstep. I hope you enjoy the updates. For real time freakouts, among other juicy tidbits, follow me @joshbeechyall.
* * *
- News: Beck Announces New Album
- Date: October 28
- Source: Pitchfork
My relationship to Beck is so complicated that I’m actually in the process of writing a book about it. No shit. So every new morsel of Beck news is treated like the missing piece of the puzzle that it is. When Beck announced an album, Morning Phase, due in February on Columbia, the headline alone was groan-worthy. After spending over a decade being disappointed by my best guy, his last album -the non-album sheet music collection known as Song Reader– was the last, gigantic, pretentious straw in the pile. But then, earlier this year, he starts releasing singles, songs in odd shapes, not really treading over anything he’d written before, a signpost in the road to the recovery of the idiosyncratic persona that followed Midnite Vultures (aka “the funkiest album ever made by a white person) with Sea Change (aka “Space Hank Williams”). The singles “I Won’t Be Long” and “Gimme,” especially, were intriguing teasers for an artist clearly attempting to stage a comeback.
But here’s the real kicker: the lineup for the album consists of many of the same musicians that rounded out his Midnite Vultures’ recording and tour, including extraordinary bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen, Smokey Hormel (guitar), Joey Waronker (drummer, who also plays with Atoms For Peace), and Roger Joseph Manning Jr., whose synthesizer work helped define Vultures.
This makes my brain do a flip into its own filthy juices, just sloshing around in anticipatory ecstasy. Seriously, holy shit y’all. If this album is as good as the faint, optimistic part of my mind (that hasn’t been killed by the Internet) hopes it is, then it will completely negate the premise of said novel. I better have it finished and out by February, in other words.
* * *
- News: El-P Announces Run The Jewels Follow-up
- Date: November 1
- Source: El-P’s Twitter
El-P has been in the epicenter of my poo-blast since 2012. I was one of the new fans won over by his album Cancer For Cure, and I went full-on hyperventilation for R.A.P. Music, Killer Mike’s Capital-M Masterpiece, helmed by Mr. Producto and released mere months later. Both albums are titanic, hilarious, poignant, and so very obviously the rillest from two guys unabashedly in love with hip hop. From their first collab, Cancer’s “Tougher Colder,” the two gelled as rap’s Super Best Friends, singular purveyors of “real bad guy shit.”
Earlier this year, El-P hinted at an additional release from them as a duo, produced by El, but with he and Mike splitting microphone duties. Then “Get It” was released soon thereafter, and Run The Jewels was no longer a secret. Their self-titled EP was also one of the absolute best albums of the year, the height of intellectually stimulating music while not compromising its ambition as legitimate, hard-headed, knucklehead rap music. Nine tracks of boasts, threats, drugs, and fawnk served as a victory lap. The tour was imminent (the ATL show was fucking church, man), and they left a big hole where they’d exploded.
I was just starting to panic: What if they don’t do another one? What if that’s all that we get? I was going to miss Mike rapping on El’s beats, an alchemic combination that served Killer Mike better than any other means of conveyance (including his time with OutKast). I was gonna miss the camaraderie and El-P’s shit-eating grin of a persona.
Fortunately, two consecutive tweets made me tear right through the seat of my pantaloons:
But seriously, there’s no need to be embarrassed. Knowing what we know about RTJ in 2013, an upcoming full-length from the duo is going to deal massive damage to ear-drums and faces next year.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go hose off. Til next time.
* * *