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Album Review

There are a few things to be said about Beulah's fourth album, Yoko. First, it's not entirely wrong to wonder if the title itself represents the obvious — that famous lady who's associated with things breaking up. Or it could very well be an acronym taken from the string-laced gem "You're Only King Once," but thoughts of heartbreaks and personal conclusions make Yoko breathe new life for Beulah. Some dealt with divorce during its recording and each member came to terms with accepting an "adult" way of life. Yoko is Beulah's most mature effort and darkest material to date, not to mention the band's bravest set. The sunny string and brass arrangements that made When Your Heartstrings Break and The Coast Is Never Clear so rich in texture aren't done away with completely, although loyalists might beg to differ at Beulah's decision to turn up the amps. Such a move shows how important it was for them to shed their twee pop style. Beulah is more than just a West Coast pop band. They have heart and soul in the vein of Wilco and the Flaming Lips, and that alone allows the beauty of Yoko to simply arrive. Roger Moutenot's and Miles Kurosky's shared production work is perfectly tailored to fit Yoko's melancholic charm while polished guitar hooks carry the weight of such sentimentality, specifically on "A Man Like Me" and "Landslide Baby." Lite pianos waltz with violins and woodwinds, adding to Yoko's moody aura on the cathartic "Me and Jesus Don't Talk Anymore." Kurosky's sincerity as a songwriter makes it clear that any kind of end doesn't have to be bitter, and "Fooled With the Wrong Guy" embraces this notion. Yoko, regardless of its many connotations, finds Beulah at a time where the bandmembers are personally and professionally comfortable. A switch in approach and sound definitely worked for them, and fans shouldn't be put off by Beulah's toughened confidence. [The 2006 edition came packaged with an additional CD of bonus material.]

Customer Reviews

Darkened Beulah

This is an astonishing album. Relatable to Wilco's push from Summerteeth to Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it seems like Beulah is discovering what kind of music they really want to make here while not denying their roots. Don't be put off by the darkened atmosphere, Yoko, like YHF, is an album that takes careful listening to. This a wonderful piece of work, and I suggest the album in it's entirety. Every single song is good!

Stunning. Beulah's best album. Actually, best album ever.

No kidding, this is the best album I've ever heard, hands down. Better than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, better than earlier Beulah outings. However, not everyone will get Yoko. Spin it ten times and you might still be totally lost. I'm probably well past the one-hundred mark, and I still discover something new every time. No mis-steps, just perfect. Beulah practiced it for seven months before recording it (in one take, no less; no overdubbing this time) and it shows: each song feels complete and well thought-out, but the music itself feels spontaneous. This album was a bit of a response to many of the band members breaking up, but on the whole, it doesn't feel angry, like Wilco's a ghost is born. Instead, it feels oddly energized, seasoned to perfection. If you ignore everything I just said, let me sum it up: Best album ever. Stunning and breath-taking. Complex and dark, sophisticated and well-planned. Buy it NOW.

There's A Sound Worth Hearing Here

Beulah inhabits a unique region of sound that's not often touched upon by many artists. The album shares various similiarties to groups of the same genre - Wilco comes to mind. For some, this will be an album that really seals the deal for the uninitiated of Beulah's sound. The darkened melodies project a sensibility of dealing with many of life's difficult issues, while at the same time, managing to be an effective mosaic of passion that's clear through the vocals and a familiar emphasis on the combination of piano and guitar which segues into a comfortable back beat of the drum and rhythm guitar. Beulah's sound is essential to the "indie" movement - it represents an almost transcendental passage of the mind and body to the heart and voice of music. Though they do not seem heavy handed, they are truly a band worthy of giving a listen. "Yoko" is truly an album capable of serving all musical tastes


Formed: 1996 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Beulah's Miles Kurosky and Bill Swan first started off as officemates, working the mail room at a security firm in their native San Francisco in 1994. While having a small dislike for one another, Kurosky and Swan did share a fondness for music. They two put their animosity aside in 1996 and spent the next year and a half mastering a lo-fi, indie rock style and recording songs. This resulted in the release of the A Small Cattle Drive in a Snow Storm 7" in 1997. Anne Mellinger joined the group in...
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