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Beachwood Sparks was at once a throwback and, from a 2012 perspective, ahead of the wave. In the early aughties, the band of former college-radio chums single-handedly revived a laidback, country-rocking West Coast sound famously pioneered in the late ’60s by Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers. The band’s spacier second album, Once We Were Trees, flirted with psychedelia. And by 2003, it had said its peace—and it was left to the likes of Fleet Foxes to win over the indie masses with CSNY harmonies and flower-power earnestness in folk-rock 2.0, all territory the Sparks had well under control.
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You probably know longtime indie rapper and producer Beans from his work in Antipop Consortium, a hip-hop group that he formed in 1997 with High Priest, M. Sayyid, and Earl Blaize. You might also know him from his extensive list of collaborations with artists like Vernon Reid, Holy Fuck, and DJ Shadow. Or maybe it’s his recently released album, End It All, featuring contributions from the likes of Four Tet, Son Lux, Sam Fogarino of Interpol, and Tobacco, among others.
What you probably don’t know him from is your local book club. But maybe you should. Beans loves mystery novels.
Why I Love Mysteries and Crime Fiction by Beans
ALARM, I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about reading how an author can depict someone getting cleverly murdered that really fascinates the shit out of me. Ask anyone who has ever toured with me, and they’ll probably say that I drink too much, but I’m also a voracious reader of mysteries and crime fiction.
The more gruesome and menacing, the merrier, I say. Bring it on! Personally, I don’t even remember how I got started reading mysteries. My father was the same way about reading, so I guess it runs in the family. As I was growing up, my dad used to read a book a night, but his genre of choice was science fiction. At the end of the day, I’d kill for a great whodunit.
In my reading taste, I tend to follow various authors and characters in a series that they’ve created. Currently, I’ve been reading Lee Child‘s ex-military, policeman-drifter Jack Reacher series. The series is both exciting and a constant page turner, as the character’s past is always catching up with him.
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The Rural Alberta Advantage made a name for itself the old-fashioned way: by being good. In 2007, the Toronto-based trio self-released an impressive concoction of frenzied indie-folk rock with Hometowns. Set to a backdrop of erratic drum work, fuzzed-out electrics, and heart-strumming acoustics, as well as a flutter of harmonies from singers Nils Edenloff and Amy Cole, Hometowns explored themes of growing up, going out, moving away, and coming home. Perhaps most striking is Edenloff’s nasally, Jeff Mangum-like howl, evoking Neutral Milk Hotel’s gritty arrangements and lo-fi production.
After touring the hell out of the album in North America and Europe, some buzz began to build on the blogosphere, and it didn’t take long for people to notice that the Canadian band was indie’s newest best-kept secret — one well worth discovering. And so, in 2008, the band signed to Saddle Creek and re-released Hometowns with widespread distribution and to critical acclaim.