ALBUM REVIEW: BEDHEAD by Sam Bekt

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WRITTEN BY: John Peterson

A recent Hard Times article headline reads: “Band Agrees to Practice Song Drummer Wrote but Say It Counts as Both His Birthday and Christmas Present.” Funny as this article is, the general sentiment that drummers can’t write songs has some truth to it. When your musical expertise prioritizes rhythm rather than pitch, it can be difficult to branch out into the world of harmony and melody. As an artist primarily known for his incredible drum work—having hit the skins for indie-rock bands Remo Drive, Jank, Oolong, and more—Sam Bekt’s solo efforts may surprise you. 

With his third album, BEDHEAD, Sam Bekt makes the case for the drummer. Veering away from the mathy, crashy songwriting of his peers, Bekt’s Lo-fi R&B displays a full mastery of the harmonic side of music. The album opener, “WEEDS,” features a jazzy chord progression and energetic vocals. As poppy as it is unpredictable, BEDHEAD’s first track sets up the rest of the album with dynamic sections of scattered samples, roomy vocals, chorused keyboards, delayed guitar, and of course, drums.  

Bekt’s drumming—never-formulaic and always-danceable—invigorates each track. Singles “DIAMOND RING” and “REDLIGHT” feature drunk rhythms which capitalize on space and imperfection as only the best drummers can. As a collaboration with Pinstripe Sunny and Matt Mannino, “DIAMOND RING” showcases HOMESHAKE-esque guitars, Still Woozy-esque synths, and a sultry saxophone that enters halfway through. 

Meanwhile, “SPY” and “STINKBUG” break off into improvisatory guitar solos, which succeed in flowing naturally while maintaining the hypnotic and cyclical features of the songs. Similarly, the drum machines are living organisms, with grooves that find a unique pocket and sit deep within it. This uniqueness cannot be emphasized enough, because part of BEDHEAD’s intrigue comes from its ability to dip into a wide variety of R&B. From the Amy-Winehouse soul of “BIG BUILDINGS” to the trip-hoppy soundscape of “REDLIGHT,” Sam Bekt refuses to stand still. 

BEDHEAD remains coherent by sticking to its charming Lo-fi aesthetic. Noise seeps its way into each instrument, providing new character to the overall sonic environment. This environment can become overwhelming, however, the various spaces competing with and ultimately dulling each other. By hiding behind an effect chain, the vocals are prone to falling to the back of the mix. The heavy-handed phasers on “STAY” create an enticing post-dubstep vibe, while their appearance on the final track “JAVON” distracts from Bekt’s strong vocal performance. With stunning piano chords, sneaky flute, and a great melody, “JAVON” will still get you snapping and singing along: “Let’s drive where you want to go/I know every single road.”  

Whether you’re a fan of HOMESHAKE or Remo Drive, Sam Bekt’s BEDHEAD should pique your interest. The accomplished drummer departs from indie-rock and offers his brand of Lo-fi R&B to the public. As should be expected, the album is filled with diverse, drum-centered grooves that are sure to make a good first impression. But it’s the surprisingly strong songwriting and eccentric production that will get listeners coming back for more. 

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