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Monday, October 03, 2011

Beanbag -- Welladjusted


I mentioned the turn of the century's Christian punk scene's embarrassment of riches in my Average Joe Aspiring review, but the truth is that the wealth was spread around every sub-genre of Christian rock. Creativity and diversity were at their peak, and you would never guess in 2001 that the myriad of sounds coming out of the scene would eventually all melt into a gooey, distasteful screamo wastepit. Australian rockers, Beanbag, were yet another band that put out incredible music, barely got mention, and broke up. Perhaps they were lucky to release two albums, but in the case of their sophmore outing, Welladjusted, it is truly the listener who is lucky.
Plenty of bands have attempted to perfect the quiet/loud dynamic, but Beanbag were excellent innovators in the pretty/ugly dynamic. One second, Beanbag's vocalist, Hans van Vliet, could bark menacingly, the next he could sing as pretty as anyone. The drummer could go from the sound of every seashell in the world being smashed into the surface of the Pacific, to rolling, ear-pleasing grooves. The guitarists sniped abrasively, then strummed and picked beautifully. Even bassist, Phil Hirvela, got into the act, finding menacing, neck-snapping tones, then falling into groove gorgeously with the drums.

Listen to Beanbag's "Slipstream"

Beanbag also held a firm grip on atmosphere. The dreamy, sad, and tense "These Stains" showed Beanbag's mastery over aural landscapes, eschewing most of the more unpleasant elements of their sound, but creating a song no less engaging. Also, in an absolutely crazy move, Beanbag attempted to cover Björk's "Army of Me" for this album. Most bands trying to cover Björk would sound like a fish flopping around on pavement, but Beanbag somehow made "Army of Me" sound like their own song, and a really good one at that. Their greatest work, however, is album-opener, "Limit of Shunt." This is the kind of song you play in a room full of people to get heads-turning, and people asking, "who is this?"

Listen to Beanbag's "The Limit of Shunt"

Unfortunately, if I did that today, my answer would be:
This is Beanbag. They were from Australia. They broke up.

2001 Inpop Records
1. Limit of Shunt 3:49
2. Chubb 3:23
3. Ill Minded 3:19
4. Slipstream 3:42
5. These Stains 4:47
6. Army of Me (Björk Cover) 3:53
7. Angst by Numbers 3:36
8. There Is More 3:00
9. Resistor 3:32
10. Dynamic Lifter 3:53

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