Night Beats release Who Sold My Generation & Tour
By Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
‘So now you have a tape recorder…you have a device that is capable of capturing sounds; sounds around us.’
Oh, how good things come in threes. The gloriously grunged out Seattle based psychedelic trio Night Beats (currently consisting of Danny Lee Blackwell on guitar/vocals, drummer James Traeger and Jakob Bowden on bass), released their third album, Who Sold My Generation (Heavenly). Recorded on 2″ analogue tape and co-produced by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s Robert Levon Been (who also plays bass on the record), Who Sold My Generation treads a softer path than 2013’s Sonic Bloom, marrying Texas psyche with elements of grunge, R&B and soul with a Latin flourish that’s both honed and honeyed.
As a third full length effort with a stronger equilibrium than it’s predecessors, WSMG is a muscular enterprise; a reliable heartbeat where older efforts were erratic and charming. Night Beats seems to have turned over the old sludge in favor of a cleaner, lo-fi sound while still maintaining the distortion, reverb and rambling sprawl they’re so deft at brandishing. It feels like classic Night Beats fare but with softer edging, as though a glow filter has been placed over the album’s entirety.
Kicking off with “Celebration #1,” a vintage PSA style snippet that melts into a dazed out swirl of distorted, spiraled guitar wafting over direct and deliberate percussion, bringing to mind something Primal Scream might do. Then comes “Power Child,” a hammering psyche and mod medley that blasts into shards before ending abruptly; a telling first shot fired. Up next is “Right/Wrong” (one of my personal favorites), a slow burn after the combustion that precedes it. “Right/Wrong” is the type of track that plays just under the radar of sexy, giving a straight shot of grooving soul-psyche that’s easy to sing along with before going straight to the hips.
“No Cops” sets back onto the fast track with crackling hiss before dosing the listener with slowed down shaker “Porque Mañana,” in which Blackwell sings in Spanish. “Sunday Mourning” is a track indebted to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club so much so that I imagine this is what it would sound like if someone retooled “Rifles” by punching up the vocals and laminating the end with a heaving guitar. “Shangri Lah” is an adrenaline fueled duel between a Wild West ride out and sun-soaked surf track, “Turn The Lights” provides some fabulous harmonica and “Egypt Berry” closes out the album with a bang. When checking out Night Beats live (highly recommended) this track hits hard, with plenty of room to improvise, go overboard and generally blow your mind before slapping you on the ass and sending you home.
Who Sold My Generation is solid, trippy and clean, an album that’s worth repeated listens and translates well live (though there were missed mosh opportunities from fans expecting the older heavy). At times it feels like Night Beats might be dialing it back or playing things safe, but they weave inspiration with form in a way that is unique to them. A craving for a little more push and experimentation leaves something to be desired, especially in the hands of musicians who so obviously have a sensibility for the genres they dabble in. Overall the trajectory for Night Beats only gets more impressive, boasting nuance, knowledge and ambition. Before Night Beats would kick your front door down – now they slide in the kitchen window.
Available Formats: LP/CD/MP3
Who Sold My Generation Tracklist:
1. Celebration #1
2. Power Child
4. No Cops
5. Porque Mañana
6. Sunday Mourning
7. Shangri Lah
8. Burn To Breathe
9. Bad Love
10. Last Train To Jordan
11. Turn The Lights
12. Egypt Berry
Night Beats is currently on tour – check to see if they hit your city – you’ll be glad you did.