Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Durable Riff

By now you've listened to Beck's Modern Guilt. If you're like me, you might have listened to it repeatedly, and declared it a modern masterpiece, easily the album of the year, perhaps Beck's very best. And you might find yourself wondering where you've heard certain sounds or combinations of sound before, thinking, "That's completely new, but I've heard this other part somewhere before...But where?" Haven't I heard the single repeated acoustic guitar note from Gamma Ray played like that somewhere? From a Frank Black or Pixies song, maybe? And aren't the beats in Replica something that Johnny Greenwood might have composed? Profanity Prayers is certainly an intentionally clipped Radiohead-influenced song, as well, right? Or maybe not. The beats are attributed to Danger Mouse, but do I hear The Zombies in the drums?

Therein lies the genius of Beck. He's his own musical melting pot, soaking up everything - everything: bossa nova, classic soul, acoustic blues, country, metal, the sounds of the dinner table - and he puts the relevant ones in order on his albums. There is always a danger of sprawl. But this time, I think the focus is right on.

And I think I figured out where I heard this riff before.

Beck - Soul Of A Man (mp3)

The Kills - Pull A U (mp3)

Order Beck's Modern Guilt over there to the right, under "The Smudge Recommends."

Pull A U is from The Kills' Keep on Your Mean Side.

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