The Beets
Stay Home
Captured Tracks

One of the better X-mas presents I received this year was an advanced copy of the Beets sophomore album, Stay Home. There’s just something inherently joyous in the clever song titles, signature Matt Volz illustrations and pinhead humor that adorn each of their releases. It was a given that I would fall for Stay Home, even before taking a turn with it. The aesthetic of the Beets is to have no aesthetic. It’s as if we were spying in on a trio in their natural habitat, pressing record on a late-night session of nondescript slacker-folk lullabies for Queens, songs to keep the spirits from passing out. You get the feeling on Stay Home that co-conspirators Juan Waters and Jose Garcia could churn out playful yarns for days on end; they come one after the other, never truly giving in to whatever trend is smirking at them from the corner of the room. On Stay Home the recordings aren’t any crisper than before, the outfits aren’t any cleaner, and nowhere have the Beets added novelty, horns, strings or modern reference. But theirs is a distinguished sound, a shuffling pop that is scruffy and shambolic, all played acoustically to accentuate a mood of impromptu get-togetherness. This is everyman indie, songs that everyone can play even if they only know a few chords. Songs about nothing more than staying home, close to the ’hood, implying that there’s a wealth of inspiration right around the corner. Maybe the Beets could be our generation’s Troggs, only with less hirsute fuzz, or the Fugs with less a hirsute agenda.

The Beets were born into the Brooklyn loft-pop scene and “Watching T.V.” (their boho-punk counter to “T.V. Party?”) orbits the similarly quirky hooks of bands like caUSE co-MOTION, the Nodzz, or even Woods. It’s telling that in my first listen of the album, the iPod was fluctuating between this and the Kinks’ Face to Face, and when a song began, it was hard to distinguish which was which. Even with a lack of hits or experimental bent, the music of the Beets is timeless and affecting. Better yet, though, are tracks like “Let it Dim” and “Hens and Roosters,” songs that casually roll like traditionals for transient hipster luddites —all the while Waters is laughing at the waste that comes from over-thinking indie rock. He’s probably laughing even harder when a band of indie royalty, like the Arcade Fire, namecheck the Beets as their favorite band. Though I’d never call the Beets a “joke,” aspirations of even a moment of fleeting fame is likely the farthest thing from their minds. Instead, it’s party music, campfire sing-a-longs, after-hours canoodling—the Beets are eternally hip in their simplicity and low-expectation ethos. There’s nothing on Stay Home that becomes immediate, nothing that will stick with you long after the record ends, only a wave of good vibes that will have you pressing repeat for long winter ahead.
Kevin J. Elliott