On the Verge: Jeff Beam

Who sells their new album on cassette? Jeff Beam sells his new album on cassette.

The statement alone is enough to sum up the throwback, kicked-back persona of On the Verge artist from the woods of Maine, and he’s got the sound to back it up. Coming into the WERS studios with a flannel shirt, two buddies to back him up, and what seems like an endless supply of steel pedals, Beam is all about distorting the music to his liking and isn’t shy about making it so. Cueing up his laptop to play songs “Now” and “Successful People Who Never Existed” from his debut, self-distributed album Be Your Own Mirror (available on cassette!), the artist paid close attention to the pedals as he played his electric guitar, backed by friends Dan Capaldi and Chris Wool of the band Soft Bullets.

In addition to commanding the distorted, cheery sound of Be Your Own Mirror, this album marks Beam’s first foray into producing an album. “It’s kind of how it worked out, but I think it’s an important part of the writing process… I think that the sound has a lot to do with how the song works out,” the artist says. In terms of production, this one was no small feat, and Beam gives a lot of credit to the man who mastered his songs. “I recorded them sort of all over the place,” he admits, and his website goes on to reveal that the tracks he recorded while touring span from his home state of Maine all the way out to Wisconsin.

“I liked doing it like that,” he continues, smirking as he adjusts yet another pedal. “You can just sit down with whoever, whenever, and get something great out of it. It made things a little tough a little later on, but it meant a lot of people got to work on it.” Although he is technically a solo artist, the collaboration aspect in terms of both recording and production is fundamental to the sound he creates—even if the accompaniment is as simple as an amped-up Macbook.

Most importantly, Jeff Beam isn’t too concerned with catering to an audience, the Achilles’ heel of many potentially great bands. His music sounds (self-proclaimed) “like a kaleidoscope”, and as he continues to emerge onto the indie scene it doesn’t sound like he’s willing to compromise his persona or his distinct sound. His audience is a specific but loyal one—if you like kaleidoscopes and cassettes, you’ll like Jeff Beam.

By Jamie Loftus
Photo by Lauren Moquin

If you liked this, check out:
On The Verge: Ben Sollee
Joshua Radin on Coffeehouse

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