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Published: 2012/08/01
by Brian Robbins

Beaver Nelson

Freedom Records

Justice? There is no justice. Hopefully there will be some of you that know who Beaver Nelson is. But I’m thinking that there are many who won’t – and all I know to tell you is that you should.

Macro/Micro is the Austin, TX-based Nelson’s 7th release – a concept album, of sorts, with tunes that shapeshift from one to another. In fact, one could think of this as Beaver Nelson’s Tommy – except there is no central character other than Nelson himself … and Beaver Nelson is everyman. Welding goggles and all.

Overall, the comparison to The Who is more in concept than sound – except for the rolling, tumbling, joyous, “Can’t Explain” thrash of “We’ll Be Here When You Need Us” – big, crashing guitar chords; Matt Eskey’s soaring, roaring bass; and powerhouse drums. (Both Mark Patterson and Stephen Belans are listed as drummers on Macro/Micro with no song-by-song breakdown, so hats off to both of you – there ain’t a bad beat on the whole damn album.) There’s even a Townshend-like acoustic guitar-driven interlude halfway through – only instead of a John Entwistle-blown French horn, we have an off-mic whistle. (That would be Buzzy McKenzie.) Nice.

Some of the segues are stone-cold naturals: “Subconscious” leads into the run through the gears of “Saturday Night” – followed by the lovely piano/bass/drums drift of “Sunday Morning” – and the perfect ache of “I Wish That I Was Missing You Again”. Nelson’s heart isn’t on his sleeve; it’s stuck to his forehead and holding a mirror for you to look into. There isn’t an emotion to be found on this album that you don’t know.

Or consider the 22 seconds of weird tension entitled “Here It Comes …” which simply had to be the gateway to “… Your Impending Doom”. “Doom” lurches along on the back of a piano intertwined with a guitar right out of the Tommy Iommi/Martin Barre School of Ominous Riffs. A little over three-and-a-half-minutes in, the song explodes into total picking porn with Nelson and Scrappy Jud Newcomb weaving wailing lines of dried-on-the-dashboard-toned six-string in glorious chaos.

“Natural Man Does Not Exist” could be a Page McConnell tune, featuring smart, Phishy wordplay over angular, funky piano. (Nick Connolly handles keys throughout the album with Nelson sitting down at the bench now and then himself.) “Why Don’t I Take It Awhile” wraps a comforting arm around your shoulder, making the load lighter simply by its presence. “Your Subconscious Does The Dirty Work” combines a laid-back vocal and driving rhythm (think Jonathan Richmond & The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner”) with a underlying layer of brain chatter. And the run of “Skip A Step” (grand and hopeful piano) > “In The Sun” (that same grand and hopeful piano melded with lingering mists of “… Your Impending Doom”) > “Love For The Pain” (sunshine! mandolin! hope! love!) > “Amen (A Coda)” (that piano one more time with a touch of “I Wish That I Was Missing You Again” sigh) wraps things up in a bundle that’s easy to lug around in your heart and your head.

And you will lug it around: there are bits and pieces of Macro/Micro that’ll stick with you – hooks and riffs and words and phrases that’ll be triggered by what happens later today and tonight and tomorrow.

Life’s like that. And Macro/Micro is a weird and wonderful slice of life.

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