Howie Beck

Howie Beck

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Howie Beck's self-titled record from 2004 is almost exactly the same as his excellent record from 2002, Hollow. The same hushed and intimate feel, solid songcraft, and melodic grace are all still present, and Beck again sounds like the third Pernice Brother -- but that's no slander. He's not a slavish imitator, just a fellow pop enthusiast with similar influences. Besides, Beck gives more care to the sonic subtleties along the way, adding nice little bits that keep the songs from blending together: the Latin percussion and horns on "My Low," the weeping pedal steel on "Zombie Girl," the bells on "Please," and the strings that pop up throughout. He also keeps a nice balance between acoustic ballads such as the Elliott Smith-like "The Books Beside the Bed" and "Lay Down" and more relatively uptempo fare like "Sometimes (She's So Far In)," "Don't Be Afraid," and "Floating." The melancholy haze never lifts despite the shifting dynamics, nor do the melodies ever fail to be absolutely lovely. Perfect for keeping you company in between Pernice Brothers releases, Howie Beck is the kind of disc you'll want to curl up with, cry along to, and savor.

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