Album Review
Annuals - Be He Me Album Cover

Annuals - Be He Me

Reviewed by
Annuals - Be He Me
Label: Ace Fu Records
Release: 10/17/06

Somewhere along the line, Adam Baker lost his mind. There really is no other explanation for the massively original debut record from he and friends Kenny Florence and Mike Robinson's project Annuals. The band members all hail from central North Carolina, not exactly a hotbed for music invention. More impressively, however, Annuals all claim that their core band members are under 22, a fact that seems ridiculous after listening to even the first track from Be He Me.

Most rock bands, folk singers, and all manner of pop princesses like to cite references that they take sounds from, if only to promote their own watered down version of music that has been played before. Annuals are not that band. Baker and co. make no effort to describe their guitar work or other instrumentation as resembling anyone's, a fact that most people might find hard to grasp. However, one listen to the whole of Be He Me reveals that Annuals have developed something that is so washed with their own brand of almost Far East instrumentation that references get lost in the winding originality of the record.

The album flows from one track to another, and really a track by track analysis would be pretty futile. Each song features unique textures and movements that make the songs have an almost orchestral construction, another facet rarely (if ever) found in modern music. Annuals don't abide by traditional verse/chorus trends, and the songs shine for it. Baker, who is credited in the album inset for almost everything about the album, simultaneously creating arrangements and effects along with key leads and guitar melodies, is an instrumental mastermind. The climax of his mad scientist approach to rock is the beautiful, haunting, middle-album track "Fair." By using organs, a military drum beat, echoing flange-laden guitars, screaming back vocals, as well a mass of found sounds that add depth to the track, Baker makes a song that is simultaneously thought provoking and escapist.

There is something to be said for the originality that Annuals present. Rarely are there bands who are actually willing to branch out from their genre and find sounds that fit with the music, regardless of a specific scene that said band finds themselves in. Annuals are a magical mix of everything that is good about music. Sublime-esque tracks "The Bull and the Goat" and "Carry Around" and a melting organs and piano's to reggae vibes. Folk in the vein of Paul Simon began the song structure for gems like "Mama" and the albums clear highlight "Complete or Completing," but don't dwell in the reference; "Mama" turns into a dream-like drum accentuating journey. "Ida, My" is a folksy ballad until about half-way through, when Idiot Pilot programming and Flaming Lips guitars erupt through the soft sounds. Baker vocals are not the best out there (his normal singing voice is somewhat like Chris Martin), but it doesn't matter because he is willing to take on any vocal sound for the sake of the album; this is where Annuals are unlike any band in music.

Annuals' debut Be He Me is an album that is not restricted by genres because the band that plays the instruments aren't constrained by pressure to fit into a genre. Baker's lyrics provide the foundation. From there, Annuals add everything (vibes, organs, pianos, every guitar effect imaginable, found sounds, Far East violins, and of course the well done guitars, basses, and drums) they could get their grubby little hands on. The songs have unimaginable depth, and truly Be He Me is a refreshing, sprawling, incredibly deep and satisfying debut from Adam Baker and co. Stay tuned, these guys are the new face of originality.

RIYL: Collages, The Flaming Lips, Paul Simon, Idiot Pilot, Sublime.

This review is a user submitted review from gnp8472. You can see all of gnp8472's submitted reviews here.
Displaying posts 1 - 6 of 6
05:24 PM on 06/02/07
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If you like the album, their live show is even better!
01:18 PM on 06/03/07
stare at the sun
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flynmnkyo'death's Avatar
The first time that I heard Brother I was blown away...Great album!
01:50 PM on 06/05/07
My name is Dan
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Sleepaway's Avatar
I've absolutely loved all the songs I've heard by this band.

Brother is actually getting some video and radio airplay over here too!
01:51 PM on 06/17/07
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bloodyr0mance87's Avatar
If you like the album, their live show is even better!

agreed. they played at my school (opening for zach galafianakis. strange, i know, but awesome), and they kicked ass!! their recorded music doesn't really do justice to how amazing they are, imo.
09:31 AM on 07/18/10
spaceman spiff
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Come on man, saying that central North Carolina isn't a hotbed for music invention is just pure ignorance. You're missing out on these bands:

Superchunk, Portastatic, Polvo, Ben Folds Five, Bombadil, Lost in the Trees, The Love Language, Schooner, The Avett Brothers, Megafaun, Bowerbirds, Roman Candle, Future Islands, Embarrassing Fruits, Benji Hughes, I Was Totally Destroying It, Chatham County Line, Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Old Ceremony, Future Kings of Nowhere, Proof, The Rosebuds, The Proclivities, Hammer No More the Fingers, the Kingsbury Manx, Lonnie Walker, Max Indian, Spider Bags, The Pneurotics, Un Deux Trois, The Comas, Holy Ghost Revival Tent, Luego, Birds of Avalon, Ryan Gustafson, Veelee, Midtown Dickens, Colossus, Inflowential, The Beast, Kooley High, Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies, Red Collar, The Moaners, Bright Young Things....

Just to name a few...

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