At his Beck and call

Pub date July 1, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

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The year 1994 was when Beck Hansen finally went electric. Prior to Mellow Gold (Geffen), he lodged in a shed, made homespun cassettes of lo-fi recordings, and busked on the streets of Los Angeles. Panned by critics as a novelty for slacker-minded Gen Xers, Beck epitomized the slack, flannel-draped, messy-haired ethos of most teenagers at the time — myself included — and his post-grunge anthem, "Loser," catapulted him to buzz clip status on MTV faster then you could spell Porno for Pyros. Shortly afterward, K Records quietly released One Foot in the Grave — an album’s worth of folk songs recorded before Mellow Gold that pretty much fell upon deaf ears while Beck rode his commercial wave of fame.

Mattey Hunter of the Portland, Ore., psych-folk-noise duo Meth Teeth, however, took notice. The vocalist-guitarist revealed through an e-mail that he purchased the album when he was 12 because "Loser" was "all over the radio," and he still considers it to be at the one of his favorite records.

"It’s just Beck and some friends, a trash-can acoustic, and him playing the songs he wants to play, totally stripped down," he pointed out. "He covers blues songs and sings sad love songs. I’ve never gotten into the other stuff he did, but that one blows my mind."

Meth Teeth’s folky inclinations are foreshadowed on the CD-R Hunter sent me in the mail. The disc comprises songs from the group’s February self-titled seven-inch on the Sweet Rot imprint as well as a handful of tracks from their forthcoming debut, Taking Dude Mountain by Strategy. It’s raw, yet Hunter and drummer Kyle Raquipiso jack up the din so that the needles kiss the red. The tunes are ultra-catchy with a psych-pop garagey tang. The amplifiers sound fried and blown out with fuzz and hiss while Raquipiso bangs away at his kit, and Hunter’s drawls are syrupy and monotone in delivery. You can hear Syd Barrett and the Kinks at once, but Hunter claims he started Meth Teeth in reaction to his past musical experiences, "coming from a long line of punk bands and dealing with shitty band politics."

"There is a great to deal to be said about someone who writes about what they think or feel rather than doing that post-punk lyrical thing that sounds like you’re trying to rip off David Byrne’s ideas," Hunter writes. "I love David Byrne, but you gotta change it up every once in a while. All styles wear out their welcome, as they should."


Sun/6, 9:30 p.m., $6

Hemlock Tavern

1131 Polk, SF