the beige
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the beige

Band Alternative Americana


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"colour me impressed"

The Beige “The Beige 01” (Independent, 2006)

Colour me impressed

The closest thing I can liken this to is the beautifully austere musicscapes of the Boxhead Ensemble. Everything is contained within gentle vessels of sound, the music splashing against the sides or shimmering, rippling, curling in on itself. Pulsing, dividing, percussion, electronics, guitars, banjo all part of the same contained sea of noise. The effect is often a quiet venture into the avant garde like some free jazz/glitch hybrid spliced onto more traditional song-based forms, recognizable tunes and melodies pass like vessels running without lights.

The alt-country roots are most noticeable on ‘Mirror’ a song that embraces the form for half its length before the instruments rebel against their generic straightjackets, cymbals patter and splash, trumpets call, guitars forget about chords, vocals reappear to assert form and pedal steel plays shepherd to get everything to the chorus. The tension between the vocal melodies and the urge to experiment makes this a rewarding listen, the basic songs are good enough, and the cul de sacs that are explored make them more interesting. Keyboards have their on party on ‘Lord I Wish I Was’ banjo gatecrashes, they all waltz together on ‘One for Me’. The peak is reached on ‘Nobody Nowhere’ where swathes of cello contrast with elliptical guitar figures, bells and cymbals, as the cello deepens its song the other elements continue to recycle creating a kind of bleak but beautiful glimpse of winter.

A record that fuses popular and experimental forms into a coherent whole is a rare thing, and this is a record of rare beauty.

Reviewer: David Cowling
October 10, 2006
- americana uk

"The Beige is Anything but Bland"

The Georgia Straight
Thursday, August 3

The Beige is anything but bland

By Ken Eisner

When the lights went down at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre on July 22, listeners packed into the Star Theatre were treated to an intensely introspective set from the Beige. Their music might be called shoegazing, although the Vancouver band’s sound is too rootsy for that label. Anyway, circumstances made listeners look up, not down.

“It was almost pitch black,” recalled Beige guitarist Jon Wood the next afternoon, “but that just made the audience stare at the ceiling more intently. We could barely see our instruments, but it was probably the best show we’ve ever done.”

While fans were fixed on projections of Andromeda and the Crab Nebula, the five-piece outfit explored the celestial limits of its debut CD, called 01 despite a notably analogue sound. Further paradoxes appeared in the setting, principally because of offering a night of amateur astronomy to people following musicians who have no interest in being stars. Three of the five members—including founder, guitarist, and lead singer-songwriter Rick Maddocks—are balding, bookish-looking fellows.

“We don’t even know how to get into the whole marketing thing,” Maddocks told the Georgia Straight a few days earlier, while sipping iced coffee outside a Fairview Slopes café. He was joined there by Wood, who mostly plays lap-steel and tenor guitars, and relative newcomer Mark Haney, whose acoustic double bass helps ground songs that could otherwise float heavenward.

Certainly, some of the spacier parts of the record, like long instrumental passages in the opening “So Near” and closing “Nobody Nowhere”, can get quite ethereal. Bits of banjo, cello, and trumpet waft through the tunes, which also feature Geoff Gilliard’s restrained drumming and Andrew Arida’s luxuriously retro-sounding keyboards. The self-produced session, mixed and mastered by Wood, is a gorgeously spacious thing.

Other numbers, like the anthemic “Mirror”, folky “Hammer in a Bell”, and romantically swooning “One for Me” are as melodic and lyrically striking as Wilco at its most incisive—and more overtly catchy.

The lyric part certainly connects with the Welsh-born Maddocks’s other artistic hat, as a published author. His novel, Sputnik Diner, was put out by Knopf Canada five years ago, to glowing reviews nationwide. The Globe and Mail’s comment that his writing carries “strong echoes of dirty-realist American writers like Tobias Wolff and Frederick Barthelme” could be applied to the music as well. And you’d have to add Hank Williams, Tim Buckley, and Bruce Springsteen to that list of modern Americana.

“Actually, it all started with ads in the back of the Georgia Straight,” Wood said after the show. “Rick, Andrew, and I all met through classified ads and played together through the years. And we met Geoff pretty soon after.”

The band name, which supports the idea that these anti-poseurs would just as soon stay in the background, came fairly late in the game. According to the jeans-clad Wood, who is naturally inclined toward the dry put-on, the handle came about because everyone else was wearing Dockers at their first few rehearsals.

“It started as a kind of joke,” Wood continued. “But it’s taken on a life of its own. You say it often enough, and it starts sounding more, I don’t know, colourful.”

“Well, it has that basic neutrality,” Maddocks said in his own interview, “but it reflects the music, in a way. It’s not a sound that knocks you over the head when you walk into the room. It’s more like overhearing a quiet conversation; if you want to get sucked in, you can.”

The band’s stargazing began with monthly gigs at the Montmartre Café on Main Street.
“It’s really been a long, slow process of developing this highly instrumental sound,” Wood explained. “And that began a while before Mark joined the band. At first, we weren’t really concerned with what anybody thought of it. We thought ‘If nobody listens, then whatever. This is interesting to us.’ But people seemed to like it, so we were taken by surprise. They got less chatty as things went along.”

“We all sit down, except for Mark, in a semicircle,” Maddocks explained. “And this has changed the writing process as well. We started out with fairly well structured songs. Now it tends to be more fragmentary, but there’s just way more space to work with.”

And space, to paraphrase the late Sun Ra, seems to be the place where they live.
- The Straight


The debut album: "01"
singles/radio play:
"One for Me"
"Hammer in a Bell"



"The Beige's wonderfully designed CD is home to a collection of textured, rootsy folk-pop music heavy on the ambient atmosphere...a brilliant level of depth to the recording...Ladies and gents, meet your new favourite atmospheric roots-pop band." --

"A record that fuses popular and experimental forms into a coherent whole is a rare thing, and this is a record of rare beauty." -- Americana UK

"A gorgeously spacious thing.... as melodic and lyrically striking as Wilco at its most incisive--and more overtly catchy." -- Ken Eisner, The Georgia Straight.

"Let’s not try too hard to categorize the Beige. We’ll just say that Maddocks writes damn good songs that allow the band to take all sorts of twists and turns through interesting corners of the sonic spectrum." --Eden Munro, Vue Weekly

"The result is a disc of literate roots-pop for urban dwellers, with a we-get-there-when-we-do attitude that coalesces into dusty, lovely ballads." -- Shawn Conner, Vancouver Courier.