album reviews

    Beulah

    Coast is Never Clear

    Velocette

    *****

    A few “”oohs”” and “”ahhs”” never hurt anyone. They certainly did no harm to Beulah’s third album, “”The Coast is Never Clear.””

    What is clear for this San Francisco band is that their formula for a full-bodied album sets them apart. Beulah’s use of presynthesizer keyboards takes a backseat to the real thing. If technology couldn’t provide the perfect sound, the six-piece band rented various instruments to pioneer the sound on their own.

    A growing fish in an indie pond, Beulah has to be described as “”sunshine pop.”” A Beach Boys/Beatles blend, Beulah’s melodies, harmonies and unpredictable lyrics sound are like a song that would accompany any good road trip up the coast. Beulah shows their humor with the ironically violent title, “”A Good Man is Easy to Kill.””

    “”When I get to California, I’m gonna write my name in the sand,”” vocalist Miles Kurosky sings in a head-bopping sort of way. Beulah trades heavy riffs for infectious horns on this track, creating a punchy sound for a song about a relationship with a man’s father as he grows older.

    Though “”The Coast is Never Clear”” sounds graceful, the recording process was strenuous at times.

    With the support of big label Velocette Records for the first time, Beulah has come from cassette recording sessions in the hallways of their apartment buildings to an ear-catching studio sound that delivers on each track. “”The Coast is Never Clear”” is truly an album to have on repeat. Beulah crafts songs that are hard to label as any specific decade, genre or sound.

    — Jessica Kruskamp

    Senior Staff Writer

    B-Side Players

    Movement

    Surfdog

    ****

    Renowned for their revolutionary lyrics and political motifs, the B-Side Players are starting, in a sense, a new movement. Along with frontman Karlos Paez’s concern with social injustice, particularly in regard to U.S.-Mexico relations and Mexico’s treatment of its indigenous population, there is a youthfulness to the group that creates a new movement of dance and music.

    B-Side Players, a native San Diego Latin band, is scheduled to release a new album titled “”Movement.”” After a close encounter with death in a van accident while the band was touring, the B-Side Players have become even more interested in voicing their opinions. And what better way to let out the desire of the soul than with a mixture of several types of ethnic music?

    “”Movement”” contains two traditional Latin pieces, two funk-style pieces, two reggae songs, and the rest is beyond categorization. There is also a very special track, “”Spill the Wine,”” in which all seven members of the band demonstrate their musical talent. By including War’s seminal classic “”Spill the Wine,”” the band further reaffirms their soulful roots.

    The music, while both energetic and appealing on CD, seems to be better live with powerful percussive instruments and traditional Latin instruments such as timbales, shekere and cajon. It is the kind of music that makes you want to get up and dance.

    In their live performances, the band adds signature riffs borrowed from rock bands such as Jane’s Addiction and Metallica.

    The stage is the place where the B-Side Players. After seeing the B-Side Players live, you most certainly will want to buy “”Movement.””

    Look to the hiatus calendar on page 11 for information on their upcoming show.

    — Sabrina Morris

    Staff Writer

    Vanessa Carlton

    Be Not Nobody

    A&M

    ****

    Vanessa Carlton’s catchy piano-pop single, “”A Thousand Miles,”” has been whored out on pop radio stations and the video has found its way into heavy rotation on MTV. Another insipid pop star in the making?

    Suprisingly, no.

    Carlton knows her way around Mozart and Pink Floyd. Her classic rock influences find their way on to the album with a great rendition of “”Paint it Black”” by The Rolling Stones.

    She was schooled in dance at the School of American Ballet. But her experience in the ballet world was confining and she was exposed to the vicious competition and pressure.

    Carlton found solace in music. She had been classically trained by her mother and wrote dozens of songs.

    The result is a well-rounded album with strong piano riffs backed by lush strings and some percussion. The tone of her voice sounds almost child-like with Jewel-esque inflections but the voice is strong with a very good range.

    Some may be tempted to compare her music to Fiona Apple or Tori Amos with more pop. But that is too easy. Carlton’s unique sound is bolstered by keyboard stylings that are distinctly classical and the orchestration gives her sound a traditional quality with a modern tone.

    “”A Thousand Miles”” is a great pop song but it’s getting close to being overplayed. “”Pretty Baby”” is a mellow and romantic tune. You will find a pleasant chord progression reminiscent of The Beatles’ “”Dear Prudence”” in Carlton’s “”Rinse.””

    If you are in the mood for a fresh pop sound that won’t annoy you after a few spins, then Vanessa Carlton’s debut, “”Be Not Nobody,”” will definitely surprise you.

    — Joseph Lee

    Hiatus Editor

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