Friday, 13 October 2017

Every Beck Album, Ranked

This list was first published in 2014, and has been updated to include Beck's latest music.

Describing Beck's vast catalogue with an adjective — or even five — is a fool's errand. He broke through during the early '90s "anything goes" alt-rock boom, hitting big with the slacker-hop anthem "Loser" and carrying that song's momentum through downcast freak-folk and feedback-drenched jitters on his major-label debut, Mellow Gold. The albums in its wake have followed Beck's musical flights of fancy to wherever they might lead: amped-up funk, breezy tropicalia, even (gasp!) serene, meticulously arranged rock.

On his 13th album, Colors, he follows up his 2015 Album of the Year victory for Morning Phase with another unexpected move: He embraces his pop-star status, leading the way through songs that supplement his musical fastidiousness and boundless curiosity with precision-grade polish and big hooks. Here, Vulture ranks Colors and his other 12 albums, and throws in Song Reader, his 2012 book of sheet music, for good measure.

13. Golden Feelings (1993)
Beck's first album is a cassette-only 1993 release that opens with him slurring, "I've got the fucked up bluuuuuues." The rest of it pretty much proceeds along that path — his voice wavers around its lowest register and the music lurks underneath layers of sonic gunk. The occasional grappling-hook-strong riff bubbles up, but there's so much else going on that digging through to find them isn't all that appealing a prospect.

12. Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994)
Released a week before Mellow Gold, on a label associated with the L.A. punk zine Flipside, this album delivers on its title's promise: It's a sliced and diced trip through the bowels of Beck's brain, with glitched-out electronics and up-from-the-mud guitars jostling for space with relatively straightforward folk tracks. Johnny Cash covered the glum, slide-guitar-accented "Rowboat" as part of his American Recording series, and it's easy to hear why; even though Beck's slightly strangled vocal performance has half a wisecrack lurking within, its simple melodies and unabashed heartbreak reveal just how well Beck can operate within the crying country form.

11. One Foot in the Grave (1994)
What's an oddball troubadour to do after rocketing to fame on the strength of a left-field hit? Beck's answer was "Head to Olympia, Washington," which at the time was a hot spot for playfully defiant independent music. Beck teamed up with Calvin Johnson, the buzz-saw-voiced founder of the storied label K, for this aggressively minimalist, genially sloppy collection. Loose-limbed tracks like "Outcome" and "Asshole" sound right at home on K, a bastion of lo-fi, although that label has been contractually barred from putting out the record in recent years; Beck rereleased it (with some extra tracks) on his own label in 2009.

10. Sea Change (2002)
Can a musician notorious for his genre-melding playfulness get serious and stripped down? In the case of Sea Change, the answer is "Yes, but." Recorded with Radiohead engineer Nigel Godrich, who also worked with Beck on Mutations, this album has expert players (Beck's longtime guitarist Smokey Hormel is joined by half of the cult-beloved power-pop act Jellyfish and session lifer Joey Waronker) and quite a few moments of beauty. But those snatches rise out of a morass that seems too deliberately restrained and at times unfocused; songs like "Guess I'm Doing Fine" and "The Golden Age" could have as much as a minute chopped off their mid-tempo chugging and be somewhat improved.

9. The Information (2006)
A solid if relatively unexceptional effort from someone whose catalogue is made up of high points, this lengthy 2006 release had a sticker-book cover, voice-over work from Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers, and a battery of videos crafted for simultaneous viewing. The muscular, sweet "Think I'm in Love" is perhaps Beck's most straightforward expression of being besotted.

8. Mellow Gold (1994)
Beck's 1994 breakthrough cleans up much of the gunk that clouded the songcraft of his earlier releases. Sure, the end result isn't entirely spit-shined, but hints of griminess were essential to Beck's initial appeal; the way the slide guitar on "Loser" isn't played so much as it is attacked, the bong-water burble that powers the head rush "Beercan," and the quit-your-McJob middle-finger of "Soul Suckin' Jerk" all contribute to a Portrait of the Artist As a Devoted Slacker. "Pay No Mind," with its surreal expressions of impending-success angst, serves as the flip side of that attitude.

7. Morning Phase (2014)
Beck's Album of the Year-winning 2014 full-length was heralded as a return to the form he found on Sea Change, although its brooding restraint feels less forced than its predecessor's. The hazy vocals and sad strings on "Wave" recall Spiritualized at their most blissfully bummed-out, while the guitar-solo coda of "Waking Light" provides a fitting end to the record, its sun-dappled solo fading into an ending that is literally a screeching halt.

6. Colors (2017)
Beck's first in-depth on-record collaboration with pop guru Greg Kurstin (Tegan & Sara, Kelly Clarkson) is a loose-limbed yet gorgeously detailed collection of sparkling pop songs that calls back to Beck's earlier breakthroughs. His vowel-marveling verses on the woozy "Wow" recall the spaced-out wordplay of "Loser," while "Up All Night" grooves like "E-Pro." But the taut, slick Colors also dives headfirst into crates of New Wave and power-pop 45s, with the shuffling barroom ballad "Dear Life" and the punchy "No Distraction" sounding like freshly minted Shrieks of the Week.

5. Modern Guilt (2008)
Possessing the sharp yet loose feeling of a jam session between people who have been playing together all their lives, Beck's 2008 Danger Mouse–produced album is an easy-breezy listen that throws in just enough curve balls to catch the ear on a regular basis, with the floating "Chemtrails" and fuzzed-out, fidgety "Replica" among its highlights. The guitars on "Youthless" pop like pistons, while the strutting "Gamma Ray" is almost like a grown-up "Devil's Haircut," trading in that song's maximalized cool for a little bit of walking on air.

4. Guero (2005)
Opening with the storming singalong "E-Pro" and barreling along from there, Beck's confident 2005 album is filled with some of his best late-era tracks — the rave-up "Black Tambourine," the future-sex dystopia "Hell Yes," the twisted Western "Farewell Ride." The bleepy, breezy "Girl" is one of Beck's catchiest songs, although its blackly left-field lyrics give it an unnerving edge.

3. Mutations (1998)
If Sea Change was Beck's attempt to grow up, 1998's Mutations­ — also recorded with Nigel Godrich — was the sign that he already had, twinning weary lyrics with some of his most impressive songcraft. True, he didn't keep the mood quite as somber as he eventually would, dipping playfully into different styles here and there; "Tropicalia" showed the Lollapalooza set how to blame it on the bossa nova. But there are plenty of moments of genuine beauty: The regretful "We Live Again" shimmers like a slow dance at a ghost prom, and "Nobody's Fault But My Own" is a stunning lament.

2. Odelay (1996)
Mellow Gold was Beck's breakthrough, but from the storming first note of "Devil's Haircut," it's clear that Odelay was his flag-plant, his signal to the world that he was going to transcend the fate of many alt-rock-radio peers and be more than "that 'Loser' guy." The details on Odelay only serve to animate the songs, many of which rank among Beck's best; the fuzzed-out screams of "Minus," the effervescent electronics ornamenting the groovy "The New Pollution," the weary guitar solo on "Where It's At." None of the experiments seem superfluous. Instead, they sound like the end result of a thrilled-with-his-powers scientist finally mastering his formula.

1. Midnite Vultures (1999)
Irreverent, riotous, and intoxicated by its author's ability to bend funk and soul to his will, Beck's cusp-of-the-millennium release isn't quite perfect, but the way it brings together his artistry, his willingness to crate-dig, and his penchant for sticking Easter eggs inside his already jam-packed music makes it the entrant in his catalogue that's the most fun to revisit. "Sexx Laws" sets the tone (and proves just how tame things were back in 1998 compared to our sex-tape-littered present), juxtaposing his out-of-this-world imagery with just enough vulnerability to pack the chorus's "cryyy-yyyyy" with a bit of self-laceration. From there, the party continues. Tracks like "Get Real Paid" and "Mixed Bizness" sound like the bleepy, melted end result of someone sticking a bunch of soul 45s into a modem bank and turning the air conditioning off. And then there's "Debra," where Beck lets his freaky falsetto fly while propositioning a girl and "only" her … well, and her sister, too.

* Song Reader (2012)
Beck's attempt to emulate the Great American Songbook is a bit difficult to evaluate in the context of his catalogue — the rest of which is a testament to the fact that melodies on paper only tell part of the story. Covers of various tracks are all over the web, however, and some approaches show how plainly lovely the tracks are — the Portland Cello Project's in toto re-creation of the album has a couple of spellbinding Tin Pan Alley moments, while Bradley Dean Whyte & the Perfectly Violent Dream's fuzzed-out take on "Do We? We Do" [NSFW] samples Beck's 2005 song "Go It Alone."

*Washington Township is a township in Burlington County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the township's population was 687[8][9][10] reflecting an increase of 66 (+10.6%) from the 621 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 184 (-22.9%) from the 805 counted in the 1990 Census.[18] Washington was incorporated as a township by an act of the New Jersey Legislature on November 19, 1802, from portions of Evesham Township, Little Egg Harbor Township and Northampton Township (now known as Mount Holly Township, New Jersey). Portions of the township were taken to form Shamong Township (February 19, 1852), Bass River Township (March 30, 1864), Woodland Township (March 7, 1866) and Randolph Township (March 17, 1870, reannexed to Washington Township on March 28, 1893).[19][20] The township was named for George Washington, one of more than ten communities statewide named for the first president.[21][22] It is one of five municipalities in the state of New Jersey with the name "Washington Township".[23] Another municipality, Washington Borough, is completely surrounded by Washington Township, Warren County. Contents 1 Geography 2 Demographics 2.1 Census 2010 2.2 Census 2000 3 Government 3.1 Local government 3.2 Federal, state and county representation 3.3 Politics 4 Education 5 Transportation 6 References 7 External links Geography According to the United States Census Bureau, the township had a total area of 102.706 square miles (266.006 km2), including 99.522 square miles (257.761 km2) of land and 3.184 square miles (8.245 km2) of water (3.10%).[1][2] The township borders Bass River Township, Shamong Township, Tabernacle Township and Woodland Township in Burlington County; and Egg Harbor City, Hammonton and Port Republic in Atlantic County.[24] Unincorporated communities, localities and place names located partially or completely within the township include Batsto, Bear Swamp Hill, Bridgeport, Bulltown, Crowleytown, Friendship Bogs, Green Bank, Hermon, Hog Islands, Jemima Mount, Jenkins, Jenkins Neck, Lower Bank, Mount, Penn Place, Pleasant Mills, Quaker Bridge, Tylertown and Washington.[25] The township is one of 56 South Jersey municipalities that are included within the New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve, a protected natural area of unique ecology covering 1,100,000 acres (450,000 ha), that has been classified as a United States Biosphere Reserve and established by Congress in 1978 as the nation's first National Reserve.[26] All of the township is included in the state-designated Pinelands Area, which includes portions of Burlington County, along with areas in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Ocean counties.[27] Demographics Historical population Census Pop. %± 1810 1,273 — 1820 1,225 -3.8% 1830 1,315 7.3% 1840 1,630 24.0% 1850 2,010 23.3% 1860 1,723 * -14.3% 1870 609 * -64.7% 1880 389 * -36.1% 1890 310 -20.3% 1900 617 99.0% 1910 597 -3.2% 1920 500 -16.2% 1930 478 -4.4% 1940 518 8.4% 1950 566 9.3% 1960 541 -4.4% 1970 673 24.4% 1980 808 20.1% 1990 805 -0.4% 2000 621 -22.9% 2010 687 10.6% Est. 2014 673 [11][28] -2.0% Population sources:1810-2000[29] 1810-1920[30] 1840[31] 1850-1870[32] 1850[33] 1870[34] 1880-1890[35] 1890-1910[36] 1910-1930[37] 1930-1990[38] 2000[39][40] 2010[8][9][10] * = Lost territory in previous decade.[19] Census 2010 At the 2010 United States Census, there were 687 people, 256 households, and 177.9 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.9 per square mile (2.7/km2). There were 284 housing units at an average density of 2.9 per square mile (1.1/km2). The racial makeup of the township was 93.89% (645) White, 1.89% (13) Black or African American, 0.00% (0) Native American, 0.15% (1) Asian, 0.00% (0) Pacific Islander, 3.64% (25) from other races, and 0.44% (3) from two or more races. Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 9.02% (62) of the population.[8] There were 256 households, of which 25.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.5% were married couples living together, 7.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.5% were non-families. 25.4% of all households were made up of individuals, and 10.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.63 and the average family size was 3.16.[8] In the township, 18.3% of the population were under the age of 18, 11.5% from 18 to 24, 21.7% from 25 to 44, 33.5% from 45 to 64, and 15.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43.9 years. For every 100 females there were 106.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 102.5 males.[8] The Census Bureau's 2006-2010 American Community Survey showed that (in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars) median household income was $96,250 (with a margin of error of +/- $21,869) and the median family income was $108,239 (+/- $9,762). Males had a median income of $19,946 (+/- $15,879) versus $41,250 (+/- $4,961) for females. The per capita income for the borough was $24,808 (+/- $10,822). About 0.0% of families and 21.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 0.0% of those under age 18 and 0.0% of those age 65 or over.[41] Census 2000 As of the 2000 United States Census[15] there were 621 people, 160 households, and 112 families residing in the township. The population density was 6.2 people per square mile (2.4/km²). There were 171 housing units at an average density of 1.7 per square mile (0.7/km²). The racial makeup of the township was 83.57% White, 2.90% African American, 0.32% Asian, 12.08% from other races, and 1.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.07% of the population.[39][40] There were 160 households out of which 35.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.3% were married couples living together, 6.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.4% were non-families. 24.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.76 and the average family size was 3.27.[39][40] In the township the population was spread out with 29.3% under the age of 18, 3.5% from 18 to 24, 23.8% from 25 to 44, 19.0% from 45 to 64, and 24.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 41 years. For every 100 females there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.[39][40] The median income for a household in the township was $41,250, and the median income for a family was $42,188. Males had a median income of $32,000 versus $31,719 for females. The per capita income for the township was $13,977. About 8.0% of families and 16.0% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.4% of those under age 18 and 13.9% of those age 65 or over.[39][40] Government Local government Washington Township is governed under the Township form of government. The governing body is a three-member Township Committee, whose members are elected directly by the voters at-large in partisan elections to serve three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with one seat coming up for election each year as part of the November general election in a three-year cycle.[6][42] At an annual reorganization meeting, the Township Committee selects one of its members to serve as Mayor. As of 2015, the members of the Washington Township Council are Mayor Dudley Lewis (R, term on committee ends December 31, 2016; term as mayor ends 2015), Barry F. Cavileer (R, 2015) and Daniel L. James (R, 2017).[3][43][44][45][46] Federal, state and county representation Washington Township is located in the 2nd Congressional District[47] and is part of New Jersey's 9th state legislative district.[9][48][49] New Jersey's Second Congressional District is represented by Frank LoBiondo (R, Ventnor City).[50] New Jersey is represented in the United States Senate by Cory Booker (D, Newark, term ends 2021)[51] and Bob Menendez (D, Paramus, 2019).[52][53] For the 2014-15 Session, the 9th District of the New Jersey Legislature is represented in the State Senate by Christopher J. Connors (R, Lacey Township) and in the General Assembly by DiAnne Gove (R, Long Beach Township) and Brian E. Rumpf (R, Little Egg Harbor Township).[54] The Governor of New Jersey is Chris Christie (R, Mendham Township).[55] The Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey is Kim Guadagno (R, Monmouth Beach).[56] Burlington County is governed by a Board of chosen freeholders, whose five members are elected at-large in partisan elections to three-year terms of office on a staggered basis, with either one or two seats coming up for election each year.[57] The board chooses a director and deputy director from among its members at an annual reorganization meeting held in January.[57] As of 2015, Burlington County's Freeholders are Director Mary Ann O'Brien (R, Medford Township, 2017; Director of Administration and Human Services),[58] Deputy Director Bruce Garganio (R, Florence Township, 2017; Director of Public Works and Health),[59] Aimee Belgard (D, Edgewater Park Township, 2015; Director of Hospital, Medical Services and Education)[60] Joseph Donnelly (R, Cinnaminson Township, 2016; Director of Public Safety, Natural Resources, and Education)[61] and Joanne Schwartz (D, Southampton Township, 2015; Director of Health and Corrections).[62][57] Constitutional officers are County Clerk Tim Tyler,[63] Sheriff Jean E. Stanfield[64] and Surrogate George T. Kotch.[65] Politics As of March 23, 2011, there were a total of 536 registered voters in Washington Township, of which 85 (15.9% vs. 33.3% countywide) were registered as Democrats, 271 (50.6% vs. 23.9%) were registered as Republicans and 180 (33.6% vs. 42.8%) were registered as Unaffiliated. There were no voters registered to other parties.[66] Among the township's 2010 Census population, 78.0% (vs. 61.7% in Burlington County) were registered to vote, including 95.5% of those ages 18 and over (vs. 80.3% countywide).[66][67] In the 2012 presidential election, Republican Mitt Romney received 221 votes (59.2% vs. 40.2% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 142 votes (38.1% vs. 58.1%) and other candidates with 7 votes (1.9% vs. 1.0%), among the 373 ballots cast by the township's 533 registered voters, for a turnout of 70.0% (vs. 74.5% in Burlington County).[68][69] In the 2008 presidential election, Republican John McCain received 250 votes (57.9% vs. 39.9% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barack Obama with 168 votes (38.9% vs. 58.4%) and other candidates with 11 votes (2.5% vs. 1.0%), among the 432 ballots cast by the township's 545 registered voters, for a turnout of 79.3% (vs. 80.0% in Burlington County).[70] In the 2004 presidential election, Republican George W. Bush received 272 votes (62.1% vs. 46.0% countywide), ahead of Democrat John Kerry with 160 votes (36.5% vs. 52.9%) and other candidates with 4 votes (0.9% vs. 0.8%), among the 438 ballots cast by the township's 558 registered voters, for a turnout of 78.5% (vs. 78.8% in the whole county).[71] In the 2013 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 156 votes (66.4% vs. 61.4% countywide), ahead of Democrat Barbara Buono with 61 votes (26.0% vs. 35.8%) and other candidates with 10 votes (4.3% vs. 1.2%), among the 235 ballots cast by the township's 509 registered voters, yielding a 46.2% turnout (vs. 44.5% in the county).[72][73] In the 2009 gubernatorial election, Republican Chris Christie received 186 votes (62.4% vs. 47.7% countywide), ahead of Democrat Jon Corzine with 91 votes (30.5% vs. 44.5%), Independent Chris Daggett with 17 votes (5.7% vs. 4.8%) and other candidates with 2 votes (0.7% vs. 1.2%), among the 298 ballots cast by the township's 552 registered voters, yielding a 54.0% turnout (vs. 44.9% in the county).[74] Education The Washington Township School District serves students in public school for pre-Kindergarten through eighth grade at Green Bank Elementary School. As of the 2012-13 school year, the district's one school had an enrollment of 37 students and 4.7 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 7.81:1.[75] The school's $5.4 million building opened in September 2006.[76] Since the 2007-08 school year, as part of an agreement with the Mullica Township Schools, Washington Township receives teaching support from the Mullica district and shares its superintendent, business administrator and other support staff. Washington Township students in grades five through eight attend Mullica Township Middle School as part of a program that has expanded since it was initiated in the 2007-08 school year.[77][78][79][80] Students in ninth through twelfth grades attend Cedar Creek High School, which is located in the northern section of Egg Harbor City and opened to students in September 2010.[81] The school is one of three high schools operated as part of the Greater Egg Harbor Regional High School District, which also includes the constituent municipalities of Egg Harbor City, Galloway Township, Hamilton Township, and Mullica Township, and participates in sending/receiving relationships with Port Republic and Washington Township.[82][83] Cedar Creek High School is zoned to serve students from Egg Harbor City, Mullica Township, Port Republic and Washington Township, while students in portions of Galloway and Hamilton townships have the can attend Cedar Creek as an option or to participate in magnet programs at the school.[84][85] Prior to the opening of Cedar Creek, students from Washington Township had attended Oakcrest High School, together with students from Hamilton Township, Mullica Township and Port Republic.[86] Students from Washington Township, and from all of Burlington County, are eligible to attend the Burlington County Institute of Technology, a countywide public school district that serves the vocational and technical education needs of students at the high school and post-secondary level at its campuses in Medford and Westampton Township.[87] Transportation As of May 2010, the township had a total of 54.31 miles (87.40 km) of roadways, of which 29.32 miles (47.19 km) were maintained by the municipality and 24.99 miles (40.22 km) by Burlington County.[88] The only major roads that pass through are County Road 542 and County Road 563. Limited access roads are accessible in neighboring communities, including the Atlantic City Expressway in Hammonton and the Garden State Parkway in Galloway Township, Port Republic and Bass River Township.
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