Monday, December 11, 2006

what will you do when your suntan is fading and the summer's gone?

#18- Beulah, The Coast is Never Clear (2001)

In keeping with Brandon's Neutral Milk Hotel post, I'll keep the Elephant 6 theme going here. I'm really starting to realize how subjective these ratings are for me, depending on the mood or the day. Do I really like that Tracy Chapman album better than The Cars? Is this really my 18th favorite album? My top five are pretty solid, but other than those I feel I'm pretty much making it up as I go along. So, this is the one I pulled out of the air at the moment.

It was late summer of 2001, we had just moved to Cincinnati and I was in the glorious period after moving to a new locale but before beginning the soul-crushing experience that is grad school. And, Melissa was working full-time, so I had lots of time on my hands. The local alternative rag recommended this album for anyone "Jonesing for the new (then-delayed) Wilco album" (was I?!?) On good faith of the review and smooth cover art, I plunked down my $12 at the record store and gave it a listen. And I enjoyed it. That's all.

Then, in March of that year, after a grueling winter quarter I collapsed on a beach of the gulf coast of Florida, pulled my hat over my eyes, and put in this disc (yes, Sugar, on a Discman). This time the confluence of setting, emotional exhaustion, and music clicked, and I began to love this album. I would best describe it as "Indie-country-jazz-pop for lying on the beach" Comparisons to Summerteeth-era Wilco or Granddaddy are apt - indeed, I think Tweedy & Co. toured with Beulah before Summerteeth, so there was no doubt some mutual influencing going on. The lyrics are often jarringly incongruous, such as in the seemingly upbeat pop/rock number "A Good Man is Easy to Kill" which upon closer listen is the protagonist, speaking to the object of his affection in a coma, unable to focus on anything but his own insecurity about love: "When you flew through that windshield / And your life passed reel to reel/Was there a bit part for me?"

This album won't change your life and didn't redefine the direction of pop music or anything, but damned if 5 years later I don't still find it really enjoyable.

Standout Tracks: Gravity's Bringing Us Down, What Will You Do When Your Suntan Fades, Gene Autry (which has the best horn solo in a pop song ever. Period.)
Best Listened To: On summer evenings with an alcoholic beverage and a nice breeze


Big Cougar said...

Every time I hear "Gravity" it always makes me think of visiting you guys for New Year's when you first started grad school. And how we froze our asses off and saw a huge junkie slong at the Art Museum.

Papa Shoegaze said...

yeah, we couldnt even look out the windows cause they were all frozen over. java j. got brandon good...

wasn't it resting on junkie's knee

Big Cougar said...

more like shin.