"LIVE BEETS Vol. One" By Canned Beets (Album Review)


"LIVE BEETS Vol. One" By Canned Beets (Album Review)

Canned Beets'  trio sound is  BIG, infectious, super-groovy and mood-enhancing in unexpected ways that only pure music can truly accomplish 


In the jungle that is the Austin music scene, there are some bands that get all the buzz (some deservedly, others perhaps less so), and there are some bands that thrive below the hyped-up Austin-music radar machine, enthralling unsuspecting music-lovers that stumble upon them by chance or word-of-mouth, and with endearing (and enduring) support from the venues and fans that dig their music.

Canned Beets is one such band, one that this writer heard first by pure happenstance at a show featuring another band, but that left a big, lasting impression. The band is small in configuration (a keys+guitar+drums trio, no vocals), doesn't often get picked up by local music media and is more than a little understated in personality, but their music, heart and soul more than offset that trait. Canned Beets'  trio sound is  BIG, infectious, super-groovy and mood-enhancing in unexpected ways that only pure music can truly accomplish. 

Ardent locals fans know to show up at their long-standing Wednesday night residency sets at Half Step Bar (in Austin's growing Rainey Street music district), where the band holds court for the better part of 3+ hours with an array of grooves unleashed on a swaying audience.  At first blush, they appear so minimalistic in structure that one almost wonders if their generous sound is augmented by a backing track: for starters, there is no bass player (veteran keysman Rolf Ordahl (Erin Ivey, The Finest Kind) simultaneously holds down the low end on his second keyboard with dexterity); drummer Doug Leveton (Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears, KP and The Boom Boom) puts his modest 3-piece kit (kick, snare, high-hat) to incredible utility (a hat-tip to local drummer-icon Michael Hale, no doubt); and axeman Ry "Rydogg" Johnson (Tribal Nation, D-Madness) weaves over and through chordal rhythms and extended solos that vary in style and dynamics, with an understated elegance not generally associated with guitar players in modern-day rock-trio set-ups.  But over the course of each set, Canned Beets takes us on a journey through time and space with a series of grooves that draw you in to their lusciousness, and then hold you there.

With "Live Beets - Vol. One", their first full-length album released in late 2016 (they previously released a 4-track EP entitled "Artifical Horizon" in 2014), the band literally captures the essence of their unique live sound on digital media. Each track on the album was recorded live at Half Step in a single take and mixed (by Ordahl) with no overdubs, culminating in a listener's paradise of a live recording with studio-quality sound. Playing all-original compositions, their music conjures up vivid, rich images of extended, deep grooves that have a distinctively 70s-80s vibe to it. To this writer, each listening gave rise to unexpectedly varied yearnings to revisit the rock-groove underpinnings of the likes of Nile Rodgers with Chic, Michael McDonald, Luther Vandross, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, even Bob Seger.

That their minimalistic music evokes such strong and varied associations speaks to the band's ability to work each groove to the max without overplaying any part of it, and to each musician's depth of experience and talent in being able to maintain their ultimate dedication to the groove over their own technical possibilities. While each track warrants its own dedicated listening and appreciation, standout tracks for this writer include the opening track "Simmer", "Other Lover" (an Ordahl composition), and "Dim The Lights" (which, as the title might portend, has a distinctly Luther Vandross feel to it).  No one will blame you for reaching for the "repeat" button many times over with this 8-track assortment of delectable desserts.

Founder, WOBEON

(Live Beets - Vol One is available for purchase / download / streaming from several fine online establishments. See links below)


Canned Beets Half Step Residency Teaser

Canned Beets @ Half Step July 2015