Ordinary language is all right.
One could divide humanity into two classes:
those who master a metaphor, and those who hold by a formula.
Those with a bent for both are too few, they do not comprise a class.
Oh, by the way, I saw the Beta Band Friday night. They were OK, sometimes excellent, sometimes just OK. I don't really think I'm much of a showgoer. This particular show was in a small club, very crowded, so unfortunately a number of my memories of it involve me standing and wishing I was sitting. The band seemed to turn a significant number of songs, especially from the new album, into more rock-styled songs with more guitar, and faster too. I can see the benefit of this - otherwise, their show would have been considerably more meditative, laidback. But I think this made it harder for them to pull the songs off (I'm not convinced that they do the rock band thing too well). Also, Mason's singing was often a bit strained. On record it's clear his voice isn't the strongest in the world, but the songs and the production make up for it. Some attempt at this was made in concert (for example, adding lots of echo) - but it wasn't quite the same.
Highlights were probably "Squares", "Life" (the big bass at the end was astounding in the club with its big sound system), and "Dry the Rain", which everyone responded to enthusiastically, confirming some of my cynical suspicions about the audience, the composition of which confused me a little, but then I guess I didn't have much reason for thinking that a Beta Band audience would look a certain way.
The DJ set before the show (I think everyone but the bassist played something, but it was mostly the drummer - main drummer, I mean, since as in Sun Ra's Arkestra, all members of the Beta Band are drummers, as they demonstrated at length and repeatedly) was really good. It was almost an object lesson in what makes up a Beta Band: lots of hip-hop, some old funk and R+B, and some early rock. No Brian Wilson though, ha.
God, I hate standing up at shows.
"cuz Ellen had my copy of Nebraska" - how much Springsteen-buying do you suppose this will provoke?
And then what's making all the noise during the end of the vocals? Not swoops (glisses, I guess I could say), but a swarm of chiming. Seems to complement all the other short, pointy, pulsey things going on. Raises the level of excitement.
The long, sweeping guitar swoops (sweeping swoops, must check phrasebook) in "The Other Side" just force an even sharper contrast with the jittery drum-and-bass rhythm. During the verses when the guitar parts are quieter and just more sparse, even individual notes get stretched out more.
The way "Following Through" is constructed: the bass doesn't come in for about a minute, by which time the guitars and drums have already set up an undeniable groove (this is fast-driving-on-the-open-highway music, here). When it plays in the verses it's very sparse - more like it drops its notes in, and it varies the clusters that it drops. For the bridge, where a greater push is needed, it starts playing eight notes (?) where it sits on notes.
Later on they use a building-layers-back-up approach after everything has fallen out, to get the song going again before the end.
What's more, those last four songs come after a slow acoustic number (thinking this is in some way parallel to the place of "The Jitters" or maybe even "You Are Invited").
Lots of song structure is milked out of the artful use of key changes and time changes partway through songs, which I suspect allows for more latitude in the parts between the modulations.
People have been saying this is a more laid-back record, or one for playing late at night. I'm not sure I agree. Maybe somehow it's more contemplative, especially lyrically. But it's still moving music - music well-suited to playing during movement. And plenty noisy and loud and rhythmically busy too.
And oh jesus the drum-and-bass song. In theory having a 'real band' play a drum-and-bass song (the rhythm section, at least) might not be much different from having it done in the studio. But because of the contrasts set up, and probably just Easley's inventive drumming, "The Other Side" seems a lot more exciting, in certain ways, than lots of drum-and-bass that I've heard. More cross-pollenization like this, please. The sense of keeping-up is important.
In fact, besides a few more noticeable chimey post-punk guitar 'solos', Jason Caddell seems to be more omnipresently chimey here. Despite that I think his greatest addition to the group is his relative restraint.
Everyone is restrained, though, in that they play things that seem understatedly appropriate at many points.