The Beets: Let the Poison Out

The ongoing rehashing of classic ‘60s garage sounds can be pleasant in a tune-out-the-world sort of way at times but, after 13 rickety turns from the Beets, one wishes for something, anything, with a little bite to it.

The Beets

Let the Poison Out

Label: Hardly Art
US Release Date: 2011-10-24
UK Release Date: 2011-11-28

The Beets’ music is an elementary and crayon-drawn illustration. The rudimentary sketch that acts as the album cover for third release Let the Poison Out lets the listener know this, albeit in an incongruously violent fashion. The album’s songs contain little violence or danger and barely even consider straying from the lo-fi and garage-rock blueprints. The ongoing rehashing of classic ‘60s garage sounds can be pleasant in a tune-out-the-world sort of way at times but, after 13 rickety turns from the Beets, one wishes for something, anything, with a little bite to it.

At times, the shambly stylings of Let the Poison Out succeed at being haphazard but still tuneful. Most of the album’s successes are stored in its first half. “You Don’t Want Kids To Be Dead” and “Now I Live” have an air of the Brian Jonestown Massacre about them, but are catchy enough in their own right. “Preso Voy” is a nice Spanish-sung treat.

It is after this point, however, when you begin to get the Beets’ gist and can ascertain within the first 20 seconds of any particular song whether you will be compelled to listen to the rest of it or not. This is garage rock in its purest, most wreckless form, with nary a surprise in store. By some turns, songs even appear shrill and tuneless, as is the case with “Wipe It Off,” which features some ingratiating backing vocals from the band’s new drummer, Chie Mori.

When Let the Poison Out reaches its halfway point, I find that I would rather be listening to a high school marching band’s cover of “Louie, Louie” instead of “Without You,” “As the World,” or virtually any of the other songs on this release. Still, there is something to be said for bands whose twin purposes are having fun with music and eschewing new developments in technology in order to uphold classic sounds from the past. On “I Think I Might Have Built a Horse” and elsewhere, all the instruments sound as if they are about to break; that the Beets can derive any measure of tunefulness from their gear is at least commendable. But when singer Juan Wauters tries to stretch his voice or attempt a guitar solo, one wishes the band would not explore beyond their means.

Throughout Let the Poison Out, my mind constantly returns to fictional band the Beets, from the ‘90’s Nickelodeon cartoon Doug. The two-dimensional Beets were a world away from the real-life band, both in sound and presentation. Still, even with a discography featuring psychedelic songs about tofu, the fictional Beets seem more real than the artists behind Let the Poison Out. If Wauters and company were to smooth just a few edges off of their garage rock roughness, they could appeal to fledging garage-rock grade schoolers. Another option would be to produce a Spanish-language garage-rock album, thus putting a nice spin on this ancient formula. The Beets do have skill enough to find a groove; it just may take a few more albums to do so.


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.