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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Ex-Beulah frontman blazes new trail

    I caught Beulah on what turned out to be the San Francisco band’s final tour. The six members, fronted by Miles Kurosky, were playing in Little Brother’s, a bar in Cleveland that was only a few steps above being a dive. It had an elevated stage that gave everyone a good view of the band. Not that getting a good view was a problem: There were only about 35 people, including the bartenders and the soundboard guy.

    Here was a band that fans, myself included, touted to friends as “”the best band you’ve never heard,”” a band which created atypical pop songs that infect your brain with their music and lyrics. Here was a band that has performed for Conan O’Brien, been interviewed by Rolling Stone magazine, and even took to the stage at my alma mater, Oberlin College, on its first tour. Here was a band that, despite their meticulously crafted songs, was performing with fun abandon, as if their livelihoods depended on it.

    It has been six years since that show. Little Brother’s closed its doors in 2007, a victim of the economy and high rent hikes. Beulah called it a day in 2004 due to the members’ personal circumstances. Kurosky continued on, posting his first song as a solo artist, “”An Apple for An Apple,”” on his MySpace page in 2008. His debut, The Desert of Shallow Effects, was just released after years of delays due to medical problems and living a life with his wife, whom he met on Beulah’s final tour.

    Marriage and the passing years have not dulled Kurosky’s songwriting skills or his voice. Shallow Effects is even more orchestrated than a Beulah album: 29 people performed on nearly twice that number of instruments. Given the array of players and sounds, the album maintains a surprisingly coherent sound from track to track, thanks to the layered arrangements. (It’s even more surprising after reading about the three-year ordeal to record the album.)

    The biggest surprise on Shallow Effects is that the chorus is often lost amidst the storytelling. As with the music, Shallow Effects is stuffed with lyrics:

    Oh it’s true, how I fell in love with things I couldn’t see and germs I couldn’t treat / I fell hard for disease, because it made me feel alive / If God’s always fair then why’s his cupboard always bare? (“”An Apple for An Apple””)

    Poisoned lips, box office slips, we’re a flop / Brazen crimes, a heist for you, the captions read we’re through / Please send me to the moon. (“”She Was My Dresden””)

    Without a hook to hang onto in each song, the album can intimidate those who have never heard of Kurosky or Beulah. However, for Beulah fans, Shallow Effects represents a welcome return and a promise of more music to come. While he isn’t making the best music you’ve never heard yet, Kurosky is blazing new trails for himself. Here’s hoping that on his next outing Kurosky will attract more than just the converted.

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