Monday, December 1, 2008

Beulah - Handsome Western States - 1997

Beulah is a Californian band. It's as simple as that. Miles Kurosky writes endearing pop songs that are cynical, bittersweet, or both, and there's nothing surf-rock about it. He and bandmate Bill Swan add a mean brass arrangement to their dual guitar work on their debut album, Handsome Western States. Beulah's crafty indie rock sound isn't as lo-fi as many make it out to be and while Kurosky's a big fan of Pavement, Handsome Western States is filled with a different kind of soul and a great big heart. From the lazy shimmy of "I Love John, She Loves Paul" to the punky good time of "Disco: The Secretaries Blues" and the countrified lament "Queen of the Populists," Handsome Western States is a solid introduction to Beulah's warm pop style. Reflecting upon teenage love is always memorable, and Beulah makes some of the confusion of those days seem OK. Handsome Western States is a sunburst of good music and as songwriters, the members of Beulah are onto something good. As musicians, they're a touch mediocre but that's not necessarily bad, either. They may be beginners in the studio; however, Handsome Western States is a great place to start. -AMG

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