Monday, September 7, 2015

Beck Modern Guilt and Growing Up Too Late in Seattle 2008

Labor day, I hate it. No, I take it back. I don’t hate it. I just have found myself working on another holiday, and despite a nice weekend full of clients, I still feel the sting of bills and problems. It’s muggy here in Indianapolis, so what better way to celebrate another Monday than to reminisce about a record that came out in 2008 and taught me to grow up faster than I was developing. Beck put out “Modern Guilt” and I didn’t hear a lot of people talking about it. My coworkers at the time barely heard, with the exception of Will from Car Crash Set (say what’s up via Twitter here). He always knew what was out, what was new, what sucked, and would be quick to tell me if something was lame. Then again, he was quick to also play unreleased music, b-sides, and so much more.

Beck’s “Modern Guilt” is an interesting departure from what most people thought about the artist. Before this record came out I was listening to “Guero” in Santa Monica and Brentwood. My coworker at the time was writing and illustrating comic books via Comic Flophouse, and he still does (go here). He’s a cool dude, and he introduced me to the stellar record that was “Guero”. But after that, I wasn’t listening to a lot of Beck outside of “Mellow Gold”, which is still a great record, all things considered. When “Modern Guilt” came out, I wasn’t keen on it, and didn’t really notice it until I picked up The Stranger and saw an advertisement for it.

In 2008, I was working for Snowboard Connection. Seattle’s NUMBER ONE Snowboard Company.
I didn’t realize that I had landed my dream job and the people around me should’ve become my longtime friends, and coworkers, not just coworkers and that’s it. I worked for John Logic, KROQ DJ and awesome guy. A bit off sometimes, but the dude was far more community oriented than I was, and yet I was the one that was trying to play “Christian” sitting in a pew under Mark Driscoll. The soundtrack to my year included Beck’s record, and looking back, it should have stuck with me.

Listening to the tracks now, I realize that Beck was on to something. He broke the mold long after he produced “Loser” and rode that to rock and alternative glory in the 1990s. His follow up “Odelay” was great too, but it wasn’t until I picked this one up that I heard a true grown up record from the artist. That’s not to say that I didn’t pick up his other records, it’s just that the backdrop of Seattle and a rocky marriage was starting to come through.

My favorite track off of this 2008 masterpiece still rings true. “Orphans” is a master track that opens up a record of amazing lyrical elements, and solid song writing. It’s almost as though Neil Young and Tom Petty were working with Beck on some of these, because you get their signature tones. Even with the fuzz that comes from the static on some tracks, you get a full scope of the progression that Beck was able to layer through the artisanal record. “Gamma Ray”, “Chemtrails”, “Youthless”, “Profanity Prayers”, and “Volcano” all round out what very well could be one of the best offerings from Beck’s career.

If you haven’t picked up this record, I definitely recommend it. I’m far removed from Seattle. 2008 has come and gone. However, “Modern Guilt” still remains a great record to put on the vinyl player and mellow out. I’m surprised more people aren’t talking about this one. Kanye, you don’t know why this guy gets Grammy Awards? Maybe it’s because he’s not sampling, and instead writing, producing, playing, and recording every sound on the record. Sit down.

Pick up Beck “Modern Guilty” on VINYL Here, or don’t, what do I care, I’m just a dude rambling about music.

I left Seattle in 2009. I miss it more than any other city I've ever lived in. I want to go back. One day I will. Thank you Seattle, John Logic, Snowboard Connection, Rick Read, DJ Sean Cee, Justin Mum, Adam Gerken, and the rest of the SNOCON Crew. My heart goes out to all of you.

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