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Sound the Alarm: Willis Earl Beal still has juice

Willis Earl Beal, photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images
Willis Earl Beal, photo by Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images
I heard of Willis Earl Beal late … at least later than all of the indie/hipster music blogs that cause artists to catch on like a quick flame and spread their ashes into the atmosphere before anyone had a chance to know what was coming. It's a very ADD complex with music. Nothing gets a chance to settle, to simmer, to fully sink in … but Beal is separate from all of that. First of all, he doesn't really have an online presence, so the only thing people had to work with was his first album of experimental bedroom recordings, Acousmatic Sorcery. For those who have cable, you might have seen him on “The X Factor.”

But Beal is weird. His interviews boast a vagabond background mixed with rock star arrogancebecause he doesn't bullshit. He knows who he is, and he truly doesn't care what anyone thinks, as long as he has room to make music at his own pace. Give the man some room so he can make magic happen. He recently shared a new track from his upcoming record Nobody knows. That song, titled “Too Dry to Cry,” showcases his poignant and forthright lyrics as well as his soulful, ridiculously good vocals. Seriously, this dude has the ferocious authenticity of Robert Johnson with an affinity for slowly slithering into your eardrum like Otis Redding.

Play Youtube Video
Willis Earl Beal - “Too Dry To Cry”

Comparisons aside, the guy is prolific. If you haven't seen his performance on “Later … with Jools Holland,” watch it immediately. If it doesn't bring a minor tear to your eye, there's no humanity left in you; all that's left is a shell, a flicker of what used to be a vibrant example of humanity. Okay, I'm being a little dramatic, but it's that good. If his new track is anything to go by, we can expect some great things from his new record. Nobody knows. hits stores September 10. So keep an eye and ear out.

Play Youtube Video
Willis Earl Beal - “Evening’s Kiss” on “Later ... with Jools Holland”

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opinion

Why So Stupid?

On Justin Bieber and the lost youth culture

The Biebs havin’ a brew in South Africa, courtesy of his Instagram account.
The Biebs havin’ a brew in South Africa, courtesy of his Instagram account.

News publications went haywire over the news that Justin Bieber (you know that Bieber fever is an actual sickness) peed in a bucket before cursing former president, Bill Clinton. It was a landmark day in the career of the former tween pop star who made his mark offering slick rhymes over processed beats and landed straight in the hearts of young girls worldwide, like a wayward arrow from Cupid himself. Now I should admit here and now, before I continue further, that I've never listened to a full Justin Bieber song. I've heard snippets here and there, said “That's enough!” and changed the station without a moment's hesitation. But if you like his music, more power to you. Maybe you can explain it to me. I'd love to hear it.

Moving along … after hearing this story, I became even more intrigued with the idea of youth culture. Granted my generation was only a decade ago, I find myself sympathizing and coming up with excuses for our nation's youth all the time. And I think that's just an adult mentality in general. You witness people like Amanda Bynes, Lindsay Lohan and the like, and find yourself either not paying attention (like me) or you find yourself constantly perusing the headlines, trying to see what trainwreck has blow-torched its carcass across the fine print of the day. And for those that don't pay attention, you simply say “Where the hell are the parents?” Because back in our day … they were the answer, if not the reason. So I ask, where are the parents? Where are those people that protect their children against the tyranny and selfishness of the world and raise them to be little warriors that think and feel and make good decisions?

People act as if this lapse in youth judgment is a recent tip of the scale. Has the trainwreck/stupid phenomena not been going on for generations? Was the late Corey Haim not going to clubs and bars, getting loaded and having his image splashed in every tabloid that had enough space to welcome it? So, why are people so critical of today's pop stars and young actors? What makes them so special in regard to past generations in terms of who did it worse? By the time I was a teenager, Macaulay Culkin (who I revered as the coolest, loudest, weirdest child to fend off burglars) was already having his mug shot taken. I didn't fret because I figured if you're going to be interested in celebrity, you should read the tell-tale signs, if not follow the comebacks. Robert Downey Jr. anyone?

And the only sane words of advice I've heard being given to these young Hollywood dilettantes were from Helen Mirren, who simply said, “Don't be up your own bum.” Simple as that. Get your heads out of your asses, get to work, cash your checks, rank up those vacation days and go about your business in a calm, leisurely manner. Unless it is your ultimate goal to look like a buffoon every time the cameras are rolling and there's a tartini to sip. Or maybe it's just a teen angst-inspired rhythm that keeps them dancing the dance of dangerous paths only to find solace in the American courtroom while hearing a judge tell them they've had it all wrong. To them, maybe authority is the answerbut also the cause. One can only wonder. But it's like that saying goes … youth is wasted on the young. Maybe there is some truth to it.

But like any grown-up just barely skimming the headlines, you can't help but feel some sort of pity for these lost Barbies and Kens who think convertibles, clothes and coke make for one hefty recipe of a good time. Don't get me wrong, clothes are nice (and essential at times), but where's the weight of such extravagances? And who does it fall on? Everyone else, unless these celebs get better tax people to straighten out the numbers. But as long as these youngsters keep doling out good tabloid headlines, selling issues of papers that usually get the facts wrong, and still make time for red carpet appearances to promote that B-movie that almost went straight to video but managed to find decent distribution, then I'm sure we have even more spicy headlines coming our way. Who knows? Justin Bieber may poop on Mt. Rushmore and say he did it all for the nookie. Or was it the cookie?

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