Jeff Beam’s latest achievement

Diffraction and reflection
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  April 4, 2012


Do not, under any circumstances, listen to Jeff Beam's new Be Your Own Mirror in a pissy mood. The cheap Casio beat that opens the album will make you want to smash things. The fact that much of the album sounds like it was recorded in a paper cup will infuriate you, each muted and blunted sound making you want to tear the wax from your ears or swim toward the light so you don't drown in mushy reverb.

And that would be a shame. Take the headphones off. Give his fourth release in three years some air. Allow yourself to engage with what is a genuinely creative musical mind with interesting ideas about layering digital sounds and acoustic guitar and found sounds and things that go backward in the night. See where it takes you.

Beam recorded the record in nine different locations over the course of about a year. All sounds are his except for, you know, eight guest musicians on eight of the nine tracks. Milkman's Union bandmate Peter McLaughlin is credited with "megaphone buzz." Scott Nebel is credited with "amplified noise." Is it any wonder the album is at times lovely (mostly when there's an electric guitar involved) and others nearly unlistenable?

There is absolutely an unpredictability and creative spark here that appeals to something deep down inside of a music lover who often craves something completely brand-new. "Congratulations on Your Latest Achievement" drives and pulses like Beck covering Of Montreal. This is a genuinely original work of art. But.

BE YOUR OWN MIRROR | Released by Jeff Beam | with Phantom Buffalo + Tan Vampires | at Empire Dine & Dance, in Portland | April 6 |

  Topics: CD Reviews , Jeff Beam, Peter McLaughlin, Phantom Buffalo,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE