MXTS 2010 Preview: Miles Kurosky

Posted in Music and other Arts by Joseph on March 17, 2010

The most amazing thing about music is that, for those of us who are obsessed with it and even for those who aren’t, it forms the soundtrack to your life.  A simple click of the “shuffle” button and our itunes collections become a Pandora’s box of one Proustian moment after another.

I have 2 strong memories of Beulah, the best indie band of the last 10 years you don’t listen to nearly enough.  (In fact, if you should stream the Beulah songs on our playlist while you read this if you don’t know them by heart.)

Right after I finished college I faced one of those forks in the road that wind up defining things for you in hind sight:  move from Texas to San Francisco with a group of friends, or return home to Austin, where I would be surrounded by people I knew? Like all choices where there is not truly a wrong answer, I agonized over the choice before settling on Austin.

By chance, a temp job I got after a few months landed me at IBM, which in turn lead to a decade long career in high tech.  One of our missions was to travel to trade shows (the tech world loves it trade shows, doesn’t it?) and my very first one in 1995: San Francisco, of course.

I had all my buddies up to my room at the SF Hilton so we could laugh about how ridiculous it was for me to be staying there.  I would return to SF several more times on business and on one of those trips my friends took me to see SF indie darlings Beulah.  It was clear they had a loyal following then though I had never heard of them.

My second Beulah memory came later in Austin.  In our first years together, my wife (and the woman who had the idea for Home Slice) and I traded music back and forth all the time.  Since she’s 4 years older than me, we were often introducing each other to music we had each just missed.  Beulah was one of those bands that we saw together and she helped me pick the shirt to buy (see photo).

It’s struck me looking back on Beulah’s music how ahead of their time they really were and how many of their attributes have filtered into the amazing music coming out of Montreal, Brooklyn and other places in 2010. The intoxicating brew of melodies and lyrics that constantly walk the line of triumph/despair, each dueling the other for a spot at center stage, twinkly guitar verses giving way to a power chord fueled chorus, tons of back ground vocals and of course the ever present trumpet for me foreshadow much of what has delighted us about The Shins or Arcade Fire.

Musically, the songs thrive on exceeding your expectations.  Starting out simply enough, they build gradually ascending ever higher, but yet always taking at least one left turn you didn’t see coming.

And of course there’s Miles Kurosky’s voice and his delivery:  somehow able to convey sincerity, irony, joy, and pain all simultaneously. And the lyrics never disappoint.  It’s music for the fans that love to memorize the words and sing along for the sheer joy of it (if you watch the Beulah doc from 2004, you will see this at every performance) but also dense and interesting enough that you want to parse the later when you’re by yourself. Music/lyrics that you can both think about while you mourn a breakup or sing to your kids while they fall asleep are hard to come by, and this is the secret of Beulah.

(Drop them in to the music scene of today and they are the band everyone can’t wait to book for ACL, Coachella, evangelize on NPR and so on. Gene Autry on an Apple or VW commercial?  Definitely. You can have Wilco, I’ll take Beulah any day.)

It’s a crime that they aren’t more well-known but here’s hoping that Miles Kurosky’s long awaited solo release, The Desert of Shallow Effects, just out last week is going to change things.  I am thrilled that Home Slice can hopefully play a small part in his return to prominence.

I’ll see you all there Friday at 5:15

One Response

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  1. Karen said, on August 5, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Love the Beulah. Saw them in NYC years ago at the Knitting Factory. Bought a CD after the show from the (drummer?)… and was so impressed by his friendliness… I went across the street to a deli and bought him a Kit Kat just to show him how much New York loved Beulah. Wish I’d known about the show. Dang. Will catch the documentary for sure! Thanks for bringing NYC to Austin. And thank you for NOT cutting the calzones in half before you serve them… that is the correct way to do it. Thank you!


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