Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Beets Let The Poison Out

The Beets are being lauded as the greatest band to ever hail from Queens. However, that distinction must remain where it belongs, with the Ramones. Second greatest from Queens, perhaps.

Formed in 2008, The Beets came together when singer/guitarist/songwriter Juan Wauters, who is originally from Uruguay, met bassist Jose Garcia while attending LaGuardia Community College.

The two struck up an immediate friendship and played guitar together on the side in self-created bands called Pow Wow and Pink Noise. But then they recruited a drummer (the first in a string of as many as 12 who came, went, quit and were fired) along with artist Matthew Volz to form the DIY The Beets.

Let The Poison Out is a reference to Howard Stern. 

The band’s newest effort, Let The Poison Out, is their first for Hardly Art. Their two previous releases, Stay Home (which features the theme about, appropriately enough, staying home) and the in-your-face Spit On the Face Of People Who Don’t Want To Be Cool, were on Captured Tracks.

These first two CDs feature strong moments, but are somewhat unsatisfying. Something was missing.

The label switch may have changed that. There is no question the move has been a positive one for the band. What was once a muddied sound is crisper, clearer, and cleaner. And for what could be the first time, we can actually hear Wauters’ accented lyrics now, thanks to the influence of producer Gary Olsen of Ladybug Transistor.

The CD was allegedly cut in just two days and with only the occasional overdub. Its dramatically improved recording quality may just be what takes The Beets to the next level. It's a tough call. The band wanted to be more polished while still retaining the raw sound that fans expect at live shows.

Let The Poison Out is literally about getting the poison out from your system. Each of the CD’s 13 tracks do just that with slightly disaffected lyrics and plenty of reverb and feedback. The band describes the collective as ramshackle sing-alongs.

Chie Mori, who by way of Japan is along for the ride as the band’s newest drummer, is a nice fit. She lends not only her beat but also some girl vocals to complement Wauters. It makes The Beets the best Beets that they can be. And if for some reason she doesn’t work out, Garcia says “no more Beets.”

Let The Poison Out is rhythmic, sometimes plodding 60’s garage rock. 

There are influences from the Beach Boys and Ramones despite The Beets being stylistically different. There's the jangly, acoustic guitar driven and tuneful Doing As I Do, the experimental Eat No Dick 3, the dreamy and near-psychedelic Walking To My House, the jittery Friends Of Friends, and the Spanish Preso Voy. Here's a clip, pre Mori.

Yes, there is a similar tempo for most songs, but there are also some well-timed drum breaks and a few guitar solos and some strong choruses, which is where the band sounds cohesive.

While Volz doesn’t sing or play an instrument, except for the occasional recorder in concert, his artistic involvement gives the band some added panache a la The Ramones’ Arturo Vega. He handles artwork for flyers, videos, exciting light shows, and album covers.

It’s his oddly violent (and bloody) crayon artwork that adorns the cover of Let The Poison Out. And while The Beets may be a new name to some, they already have admirers in all the right places. They have shared the stage or toured with heavy hitters such as Pavement, Mountain Goats, and Vivian Girls. Not bad for a quirky band from Jackson Heights, Queens.

Let The Poison Out By The Beets Bangs In With A 6.0 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

During November and December, The Beets will be making stops in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and, of course, New York. They’re worth checking out, especially as the diminuitive Wauters sings, screams and charms his way into audience members’ psyche.

For the album, check out Let The Poison Out on iTunes. You can get the CD at Barnes & Noble or look for Let The Poison Out on Amazon. The band is not always easy to find on the Web. So look for them at The Beets and on Facebook at The Beets.
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