I had foolishly thought I had pretty much escaped snow shoveling for the year but I guess Mother Nature had different ideas. Well played, Mother Nature, well played…you bitch. So after a leftover breakfast scramble, it was time again to don the Hulk toque and deep snow apparel and get to a-shovelin’. Fuck. Hey, at least there’ always good music to look forward to and this morning I have a real treat queued up, something I’ve been anticipating for a while now; Beck’s new ‘Morning Phase’ album.
Released only a few days ago, ‘Morning Phase’ is Beck’s first offering in eight years, apart from a song collection released entirely as sheet music. Unfortunately I can’t read sheet music or, like, play any instrument, so a page of black squigglies wasn’t very enticing as I certainly couldn’t dance to it. But at the beginning of 2012, however, he got more serious about putting together a record, laying down the skeleton of this album in just three days in Los Angeles. Then he spent the rest of 2012 tinkering with and fleshing out those songs until he had something close to a full album. But ‘Morning Phase’ was born even before then: a number of the tracks date back to 2010, when he spent time recording for Jack White’s Third Man label in Nashville.
Beck has dubbed this work “California music” (as the neo-hippie album cover might suggest), comparing the record to bedrock artists like the Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, Gram Parsons and Neil Young. He also has called the record a “companion piece of sorts” to his chilled-out 2002 album ‘Sea Change’. Whatever, I could use some warmth and sunshine right about now while I’m ankle deep in this white shit. So while it’s prevalent uber-hippie feel was a bit much at times (truthfully, a few tracks had me wanting to stick an ice pick in my ear), at other times it was kinda cool, like ‘Morning’, ‘Blue Moon‘, and ‘Unforgiven‘, which all provided a rather surreal experience while out shoveling snow in near-zero visibility.