Buffalo BEAST - Buffalo's New Best Fiend
April 6 -April 20, 2005 Issue #72
 All Pope, All The Time
BEAST Story and Clip on Celebrity Justice


Read Controversial List
Laugh at Letter from "Mega-Lawyer" Bert Fields  
[SIC] #69
FREEDOM FROM SPEECH Universities: Threatening America's Hard-Won Ignorance
by Allan Uthman
Journalists to be Punished in Afterlife
by Matt Taibbi
The Uncredible Frightened Man
by William Pitt
by Ian Murphy
by Gabe Armstrong
by N. Sorrenti
REPLACES ELECTRICITY w/ Prayer In Now-Dark State
Protect Your Rights
Cover Page
Buffalo in Briefs
Separated At Birth
NEW! Dreams Revealed
Kino Corner
Audio Files
Sports Desk
NEW! Angry Voicemails
[SIC] - Your Letters

The barrio slang term Guero, meaning something like whitey, is a nod to how Beck makes music: by cribbing seemingly incongruous musical styles and bits of pop culture to put in his own bag. From his short-lived rap band Kill Whitey and slacker shtick of "Loser" to a Prince parody in Midnight Vultures and the James Taylor influenced ballads on Sea Change; Beck has always been a self-proclaimed garbage man. The artistry of Guero picks from a pile somewhere between Los Angles and a comic book. As we all know, picking garbage is hit or miss.

Collaboration with The Dust Brothers and track selection like that of a good mix tape draw parallels to Odelay, yet Beck the consummate scavenger mostly avoids picking his own dead bones.

Whitey gets asked where heís going on "Queí Onda Geuro." This song is still fresh enough to eat! Some homeboys allude to Yanni and James Joyce while a tricked out ride bounces down the block, ever repeating its mariachi car horn and machismo. This pile of trash has both the self-deprecating humor and sly grooves that Beck fanatics have come to expect.

"E Pro," the first track, tries to get you revved up with an anthem rock guitar riff and refrain "nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah," which comes off a little like a taunt. Weak vocals and sluggishly developing measures of polyrhythms fail to reach this reviewer. Fear not, for what "E Pro" attempts, "Hell Yes" accomplishes. "Fax machine anthem get your damn hands up," Beck announces on the funkiest track of the album. "Iím cleaning the floor. My beat is correct. HELL YES!" He is quite right and pretty funny about it, both in composition of phrase and sound.

Sounding like a Sea Change left over, "Broken Drum" is a highlight of a different color. A wispy feedback loop mixes seamlessly with a lax beat and a hanging electric guitar interjection echoes the somber yet hopeful lyrics. Celeste and piano harmonically mirror the words to great emotional effect.

On "Go It Alone," Jack White provides a smooth bass line, the Dust Brothersí beats break just right with an ambient fuzz reminiscent of vinyl, and Beck approaches the words with subtle soul and inflection. This song will give you an earworm. The refrain "Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah" rears itís head again, this time with hand-claps to pleasing effect.

The electronic chain gang blues of "Farewell Ride" is the grittiest weíve heard from Beck since One Foot in The Grave. Slide guitar creeps against the foot stomp/hammer strike beats, a breathy harmonica pauses for the sparse dissonance of finger piano and itís total bass rattler! Itís almost too good for words, save for the ones Beck chose. The multi-tracked lyrics are rich in timbre and imagery. For this reviewer, this is the ultimate Beck song, combining the rawness of his early career with vocal, instrumental and electronic chops that he has also managed to pick from the trash.

"Rental Car" is mostly forgettable, except for a breakdown that sounds like Swedish midgets on speed. There are some other songs that donít warrant any more print space than to say they are a bit like Popsicles. Maybe you will find them delicious.

If you like Beck, you will like Guero. Beck has once again fended off this reviewerís fears that he may, in advancing age, become shitty. The only thing that could break his stride now is finding Jesus.

-Ian Murphy

This is what hip-hop music is about, or should be about. This album runs right up to the line of pop culture and makes a point to stop before it crosses. The Perceptionists (Akrobatik, Mr. Lif and DJ Fakts One) have created one of best hip-hop CDs this year. Forget that 50 Cent drivel, that might satisfy you little wiggers from the suburbs, but REAL hip-hop heads know whatís up.

With minimal guest appearances from Guru, Humpty Hump (Digital Underground), Phonte (Little Brother) and CamuTao this album just proves how much star power Lif and Ak have. Fakts One is ruling the production duties, with a few outside producers such as El-P and ComuTao to even things out.

With club-banger material like "Letís Move!!," "Blo" and "Party Hard," Black Dialogue has the power to reach out to fans of bass-heavy dance grooves, but keeps lyric lovers engaged as well. These tracks will not only make you nod your head; if youíve got the right equipment, theyíll wake your neighbors up for blocks. I wish all hip-hop acts could mesh beats with lyrics so well.

"Memorial Day" speaks on serious political topics and the wars weíve been having and still are involved in. The hook carries a question for President Bush: Where are the weapons of mass destruction? / We been looking for months and we ainít found nothing / Please mister President tell us something! / We knew from the beginning your ass was bluffing! It also touches on how not supporting the war labels you unpatriotic, and the wrongness of killing innocent people in other countries over bullshit.

"What Have We Got To Lose?!?" is another political track, addressing the rise in healthcare costs, diminishing education and other problems in our domestic economy, including corporate crimes that hurt the masses (think Adelphia and Enron). Its message: not to tolerate the abuse these companies and the government give us by undermining our intelligence, allowing censorship, trying to scare us with color charts and disrespecting our rights.

"Breathe in the Sun" is by far the standout track on Dialogue. The beat is original and the lyrics show a personal side of Lif and Ak, reflecting on life and how they need to just slow down sometimes and take in the world before itís too late to recognize the beauty of life.

For real hip-hoppers, Black Dialogue is a perfect album, including good beats, smart lyrics, relatable topics and positive messages while retaining its street credibility. Itís sad that gems like this wonít get the recognition or sales of a piece of shit like J-Kwon or Lilí Bow Wow. Dialogue is very good, not a perfect 10 but pretty damn close. A definitive album to be added to the collection of anyone who enjoys great, thoughtful music.

-Patrick Higgins

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