Welcome to a new and improved Beandon’s Musical Corner, the only place on campus for in-depth, exhaustive reviews of the latest releases in rock, jazz, experimental … and pretty much everything else. Brandon Rupp (also known by his mononymous musical title “beandon,” under which he releases music and DJs as KZSU’s Student Music Director) explores a new title and gives unfiltered feedback, regardless of the genre. Feel free to send him music — he’d love to take a look!
Nearly ten months into the year, 2023 has established itself as a strange year for music.
There have been many bursts of brilliant albums, such as Lana Del Rey’s experimental “Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd,” Feeble Little Horse’s spunky debut “Girl With Fish” and Jamie Branch’s tragic posthumous jazz classic “Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)).” However, I must admit that these records have been relatively few and far between, and certainly not up to the task of following 2022, one of my favorite years for music.
Between that observation and my work as the music desk editor last volume, I had momentarily placed my column on the back burner … until now. I always appreciate when an album renews my spirit in both music and writing about music. For this column, that album is “3D Country” by New York post-punk country jam-band amalgamation, Geese.
Geese is a relatively new band, having only released one prior record, “Projector” (2021). Though a solidly crafted post-punk album, it merely hinted at the band’s unleashed talent. For one, it was immediately apparent that vocalist Cameron Winter is a gifted, bizarre frontman. He’s unpredictable, plunging into deep bass notes only to suddenly swap to heartfelt shrieking. (Listen to him belt “I was hypnotized” on the titular track of “3D Country” for an idea of what I mean.)
On “3D Country,” Winter’s lyrics describe bizarre stories fueled by an ungodly amount of psychedelic drugs. The furious, Zeppelin-esque opener “2112” is peppered with references to the Kali Yuga and Norse monster Jörmungandr to signal a sense of apocalyptic dread. The honkytonk closing number “St. Elmo” features a resolute message for some of the album’s moodiness: “Some stories have a sad end / Some sad stories have no fucking point.”
The band’s relentless song structures and penchant for genreplay resemble classic 70s prog rock, but it is infused with country twang and Southern soul. The fusion is unbelievable at points. For example, the titular track features a group of gospel backup singers who serve as the glue for the song’s mix of shimmering indie rock guitars, sweeping harp and (weirdly) Roman-themed lyrics.
This particular track also has the rare distinction of feeling “epic” in the literal sense of the word. Through numerous cycles of beautiful lyrical and instrumental passages over its nearly six-minute run time, the song is as three dimensional as its name would imply, exploring dozens of musical and lyrical angles for its loose surrealist story.
Geese’s postmodern disregard of genre places it in the tradition of musical goofballs like Ween or (the much more aggressive) Mr. Bungle. (Ween’s “12 Golden Country Greats” is the only record where the band stayed comfortably within one genre. Here, Geese takes that as an open invitation to experiment wildly with a skewing of country.) Songs like “Cowboy Nudes” are played straight as gospel pop diddies, while “Mysterious Love,” on the other hand, is a post-punk slice of noise rock.
Geese’s throughline for these elements, like Ween and Bungle, is tight and prodigious instrumentation. The numerous orchestral elements are well-arranged and furiously performed, the rhythm section is thunderous and very often funky, and the vocals are among the best in recent memory. Tracks like “Domoto” play with wild dynamics and slow builds to great effect, while “Cowboy Nudes” shows that Geese is both well-rehearsed and unrestrained.
Every song on “3D Country” is packed to the brim with catchy melodies and memorable quirks: “Be my warrior,” “Rollin’ up the pieces of my mind” and “Where would I ever be without you?” are all stray hooks still stuck in my head dozens of listens in.
The only eyebrow-raising element of the album’s presentation is its cover and promotional art, all of which were clearly composed with the assistance of DALL-E AI. The cover represents the themes of growing artificiality, doom and dread in the context of the natural world (symbolized by the meat-and-potatoes cowboy aesthetic), but it almost instantly dates the album visually. I have no doubt that this early, janky iteration of AI image generation will be viewed as antiquated and tacky within the decade.
Nevertheless, “3D Country” is a fantastic release and easily one of my favorite albums of the year. In almost every single way, this album delivers the goods: it’s fun, intelligent and proficient. I can’t wait to see where Geese goes next with this foundation.
“3D Country” continues the streak of my column’s “gushing praise” arc. I can’t imagine a better album to return with — here’s to many more!
Editor’s Note: This article is a review and contains subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.