Sunday, February 10, 2008

Band Spotlight: Beat Happening

Genre: I strongly suggest avoiding labels and categories, especially if you have never heard the artist before. It is best to go into an artist's music with an open mind. If you hear that they are metal, for example this may taint your perception of how the band should sound/act. But back to the band!

History: Beat Happening were formed in Olympia, Washington in 1982 by a young, charismatic college student by the name of Calvin Johnson. Johnson and the band have since become vital figures in the underground scene. Upon the band's inception, Johnson also began the independent label K Records. The label has become a scale for all students to match. The label's motto pretty much sums up Johnson and all his "Calvinist" followers' philosophy and attitude toward the music industry: "exploding the teenage underground into passionate revolt against the corporate ogre since 1982." The band's career was later chronicled in Michael Azzerad Our Band Could Be Your Life, which was reviewed on here by that gay music critic, but for some reason I can't remember his name.... oh well.

Musical Style: Haha, they may be average musicians, but they aint your average band. Hell these guys (and gal) don't even refer to themselves as musicians. One critic once claimed after hearing their first album, Beat Happening, that the vocals sounded like a kid singing to himself while listening to his headphones. Many fans and artists alike adore (or detest!) Johnson's baritone voice and the band's overall raw, low-fi production aesthetics. It should also be noted that the band never had a bass player. So, you can gather the idea that this is the kind of band where you hear/see them and think, "shit if he can do this, than I can." And this has proven to serve as a tremendous influence upon numerous future stars including fellow Washington resident Kurt Cobain.

Top Songs:
"Foggy Eyes"
"Let's Kiss"
"In Between"
"Indian Summer"
"Crashing Through"
"Black Candy"
"Pajama Party in a Haunted Hive"
"Hot Chocolate Boy"
"Cry For a Shadow"
"Teenage Caveman"
"You Turn Me On"
Best Album: Jamboree (1988)

Why You Should Listen To Beat Happening: Where else can you hear songs about hot chocolate and pajama parties? And much like I said before the band is just a great example of how you can still make creative, invigorating music with limited musicianship. And if your not an aspiring artist and simply a music lover, well if you are ever on a quest for authentic, enlightening independent/underground music, well then Beat Happening is your band. On a final note I and another fan both agreed that we want "Indian Summer" to be played at our funerals; it is easily one of the top ten greatest sing-alongs.

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