Music

Buried Beds: In Spirit

The diverse, eclectic sounds from Buried Beds never stray too far from their indie-pop roots on this brilliant sophomore effort.


Buried Beds

In Spirit

Label: Devinyl
US Release Date: 2013-09-24
UK Release Date: Import
Website
Amazon
iTunes

They say you can know a man by the company he keeps. Apparently, you can also know a band by it.

The Philadelphia-based, indie-pop group Buried Beds opened for mewithoutYou on the latter's 2012 tour in support of Ten Stories. They must’ve been in good company. The fit was apparently so good that when mewithoutYou sought a new rhythm guitarist, Buried Beds’ Brendan Beaver (say that five times fast) filled the gap seamlessly. The bands are kindred spirits.

Both groups display a kind of spiritual whimsy, drawing lyrical inspiration from myth and folklore and channeling it into diverse instrumentations as inventive as they are infectious. In Spirit, the sophomore release from Buried Beds, is a big step forward. Their debut LP Tremble The Sails was staggeringly diverse, but a little uneven in places. In Spirit sounds that much more sure of itself across the record’s 10 tracks. In fact, it’s almost too even.

What impresses most about Buried Beds is how their arrangements metamorphosize throughout a song. Tracks that begin with a vacant guitar riff can swell into manic fuzz-folk, while lilting, plucky, string-and-piano numbers will soar into chamber-pop anthems. The band’s love for quirky percussion and the occasional synth overture keeps listeners on their toes. Each part is so expertly played and thoughtfully arranged that it feels remarkably unified and whole. It’s sonic impressionism.

Case in point: “Wolf Confessor” transforms from a bouncy, fairground organ-based dirge into a straightforward indie rock power anthem -- all inside its four and a half minute run time.

Beaver co-fronts the band with the toothy-grinned Eliza Jones, who lends her breathy, delicate vocals to most tracks. Something about her airy soprano in harmony with Beaver’s throaty tenor ends up sounding like an amazing, androgynous, synthetic robot choir -- though the gobs of reverb may have something to do with that.

Lyrics are similarly diverse, sometimes mystical and sincere, as on "Stars": “And sleep won’t come if you never close your eyes / Like stars above us we are all on fire.” Other times they are caustic and contemporary, like on "1000 Acres", which contains lines such as “With every little word I’ll say it / Every little turn, I’ll take it now / And every little word, you’ll say it never really mattered at all.”

With all its diversity of lyric and style, it’s a bit of a shame the pace of the album is on a pretty constant keel, however. The songs are almost all just over four minutes in length, and none of them ever totally commit to driving rock or power pop, which might’ve given the listener something to latch onto. “Breadcrumb Trail”, from Tremble the Sails, was two minutes and 39 seconds of perfect pop, all smiles, unicorns and gumdrops, and remains the best song Buried Beds have ever written. Meanwhile, “Your Modern Age”, their debut's heaviest track, is more than five minutes of guitar and piano cacophony that comes off not as indulgent but urgent. That sort of urgency is a bit harder to find on In Spirit.

Instead, In Spirit is a mature, measured approach to indie rock, not constructed but crafted with incredible artistry and musicianship. There’s a reason Buried Beds have been invited to share the stage with some of the most original acts from the Philadelphia music scene, including mewithoutYou and Dr. Dog. Buried Beds make the most of a broad sonic palette, but never overwhelm you with it. Don’t miss this album.

8

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
Culture

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
Books

'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
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

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

rating-image