The Beatings – The Heart, the Product, the Machine and the Asshole

The Beatings
The Heart, the Product, the Machine and the Asshole

Get this CD and put it in your car stereo, drive around alone, sing along really loud. Put it on while you get ready for the big date. Getting home way too blasted in the early morning? No problem, try The Beatings while you stare at the spinning ceiling. If you just got dumped, pour another whiskey, and crank the last song, “These Days Will Be the Old Days Someday.”
The Beatings are the real deal, making the kind of uninhibited songwriting and performing that bands struggle for, but few ever actually achieve. If they can’t hit the notes, they shout them out anyway. The playing is unselfish and deceptively basic, traditional, but not to the extent of being uncreative. They have big swaying anthems (“Sick Day”), quirky, sharp pop (“This Year”), and even dark, disturbing laments (“Organ Donor Regrets”) that would make Billy Childish proud. There’s some winking and shrugging when they scream about how “the transvestite bar got the best of them (me),” but then again, maybe there’s not.
Here’s a brief description of the music itself . . . Throughout the six songs here, the ingredients rarely (though they do on occasion) stray from the standard garage band set up. There’s dirty guitars, a thick, quarter note-happy bass, and a hard hit drum kit that let’s you know what part of your body to nod, tap, or shake. The voice that most often comes through is a bassy, though surprisingly expressive instrument, something that calls to a more vocally talented Calvin Johnson. This is the easy defining characteristic for The Beatings. They’re also fond of the “three chords and the truth” approach, but are no means limited to it. “Transvestite Bar,” a seven-minute trek through the geography of a very strange evening, sports a banjo and organ, giving something of a rootsy melancholy to its minor meanderings, while “Sick Day,” lead by the voice of the female bass player, offers up a welcome break about half way through the somewhat gloomy EP.
About the only negative thing that could be said about the record is that the opener, “American Standard,” is a more sullen, slowed-down theft of Pavement’s famous “Summer Babe,” and the closer, maybe the favorite off the whole disk, “These Will Be the Old Days Someday,” appears to be heavily influenced by the sad and sweet tunefulness of Modest Mouse’s earlier work. Even this though is easily overlooked because of the personal stamp The Beatings put on the songs, and after a few listens, the comparisons fall off the back of the truck. This is one of the best finds in a long time. Check them out.