Beastie Boys "The Mix-Up" Track-by-Track Review

Because of the Beastie Boys' diverse music catalogue, they tend to draw a lot of music heads (i.e., people who love all kinds of music) as fans. One of the best things about being part of the Beastie Boys fan community is connecting with other music heads like me. Last week I met up with two music heads with whom I have become friends because of the Beastie Boys. We spent a weekend seeing some of the best musical artists in the world (minus the Beastie Boys) at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California.

I thought when I stepped on the plane to begin my weekend at Coachella, I was in for a Beastie-free weekend. I was wrong. As I took my seat on the plane, I received a text message from a friend in Los Angeles who works for the Beastie Boys label. The message said: JUST GOT NEW BEASTIES. WANNA HEAR? I sent a reply: I'M ON MY WAY TO LA NOW.

For some reason, the only two things I am lucky with are getting great parking spaces and having strange and fantastic Beastie Boys things happen to me. What are the odds the same day I have a trip scheduled to Los Angeles, I would get a message about hearing the Beastie Boys' new album in Los Angeles? It's weird.

I wish I had my camera in my hands when my friends, Paul and Jenny, picked me up at LAX.

"How would you like to hear some new Beastie Boys?" I asked them. They did happy dances for their reply.

And so we met up with my friend and listened to the Beastie Boys' new, all-instrumental album, titled The Mix-Up. This is our review.

Track-by-Track Review of

1. B for My Name
"B for My Name" is most like the instrumental songs fans are familiar with by the Beastie Boys, which may be why it begins the album -- so fans don't go into shock because the rest of the songs on the album are quite different.

Paul described this song pretty accurately as "Sabrosa Meets Groove Holmes." Although I agree with Paul's description, I'm a bit leary to compare any of the new songs to the The In Sound From Way Out! songs and mislead people to believe it's a repeat of The In Sound. The new songs are very different than the Beastie Boys' earlier instrumentals.

On the plane ride home from Los Angeles, trying to make sense of my notes from our listening sessions, I listened to The In Sound for comparison purposes. The thing that struck me most is the new instrumentals are much more richly layered than the band's earlier instrumentals. Having spent months watching the Beastie Boys on the O-scope camera, I knew that this would be a finely produced album because I saw them spending more time on the production than playing and recording.

2. 14th St. Break
After discussion, Jenny, Paul, and I decided that this is a rock song. It's Mike Diamond's drumming that makes it a rock song. Overall, Mike's drumming style is more rock than his band mates' contributions, which are more funk-oriented. They fuse the styles to create a unique sound.

"14th St. Break" begins with a drums and organs jam. The organs have a BS 2000 vibe. Jenny said, "It's BS 2000 Meets the Beastie Boys." In other words, it's two kinds of goofy coming together to create another kind of goofy.

I made a note that there is a constant tamborine shaking throughout the song. It's the small things like the tamborines, whistles, bongo drums, bells, etc., on The Mix-Up that make the album so rich in sound.

Mike's drumming on this song is aces!

3. Suco de Tangerina
"Suco de Tangerina" is like the cantina music in Star Wars. It's goofy BS 2000-style keyboards and jazz drums. The song builds as it progresses. Jenny, Paul, and I really like this song. It's fun. You laugh and want to dance when you hear it.

Again, I love Mike's drumming on this track.

4. The Gala Event
"The Gala Event" is my favorite song on the album. It's the "spy music" track that we were told about. It could easily be a James Bond theme in the Sean Connery era. The song is full of Moog effects -- lots of sci-fi noises like whizz-whizz-whizz, woo-woo-woo, and bzzz-bzzz-bzzz. The backbone of the song is its strong, groovin' bass line.

The ending of the song is a great wee-wee-wee-wee fade-out that transitions into the band talking to each other. We couldn't make out what they were saying without headphones.

I love the Moog effects because they remind you that you're listening to the Beastie Boys. Those sounds are goofy like they are. (I'm having fun writing out the sounds, in case you couldn't tell.)

Paul thought "The Gala Event" sounds like it could have fit on Ill Communication.

5. The Electric Worm
"Do I hear cowbell?" Jenny asked while we were listening to "The Electric Worm."

"The Electric Worm" has a funk bass and waka-waka electric guitar. Paul thought the song had a slight reggae feel to it. Again, there are lots of sci-fi noises throughout the song.

The song ends sort of abruptly. When it did, Jenny yelled out, "More cowbell!" causing Paul and me to crack up. Jenny has good timing.

6. Freaky Hijiki
"Freaky Hijiki" is a tiki lounge song. It's very chill -- a song to de-stress to.

Adam Yauch shines on this song with a big soul/funk bass guitar solo in the middle of the song. Adam Horovitz goes into space on the guitar, creating some really odd noises with his instrument. Those fans who don't think much of Horovitz' guitar playing may possibly be won over by his guitar work on this album. (I have always thought the man can shred.)

"Freaky Hijiki" features hand clapping, whistling (human, not instrument), and drumstick clicking for effects. The song ends with applause and whistling. I think it may be the band applauding themselves.

Jenny really liked this track because of the bass.

7. Off the Grid
"Off the Grid" sounds like it could be music for the closing credits of a film. The song begins with a low-key guitar and keyboard jam and then crescendos into a full band rock song. Horovitz is BS 2000 on guitar instead of keyboard for this track. His guitar styling is goofy (good goofy, that is). The song kicks into a full-on rock out about two minutes into the song.

Paul thought the song felt like it could have vocals, which I agree with.

Jenny said, "The best part is when it kicked in."

8. The Rat Cage
"The Rat Cage" is a Yauch song. It has the most bass guitar of all the tracks. It's another goofy song with whistles and other strange effects.

Paul thought the song sounds like music the characters in "Star Trek" would listen to in their living quarters. Spock will rock!

9. The Melee
"The Melee" is another drums and organ songs. It has a happy, upbeat feel to it. This might be the Northern Soul track that we heard about, although it's not my idea of Northern Soul, which is heavy-beat soul music (precursory 70s funk). This song has Horovitz and Money Mark (we think) dueling on keyboards, with Yauch breaking up the fight with his bass guitar.

10. Dramastically Different
Jenny came up with the best alternate title for this song! She called it "The Tandoori Jam." The Beastie Boys interject a little India into their album by using a sitar instead of an electric guitar (they probably used both -- but it's the sitar you hear and remember). Although the song features the unusual instrument, it really is all about the drums. Again, we have another duel -- but this time it's Diamond versus Ortiz (at least we think it sounds like Alfredo Ortiz).

The song ends with a bongo drum roll.

11. The Cousin of Death
"The Cousin of Death" is another track that Jenny, Paul, and I really liked. It's very effects-heavy. Yauch uses the fuzzbox.

Listening to this song, I pictured girls dancing the go-go in a mod club in the 60s.

12. The Kangaroo Rat
"The Kangaroo Rat" has a this-is-the-end quality to it. Jenny said it made her think of Beck's Odelay because of some of the percussion on the song. Paul said it reminded him of "Ricky's Theme."

Toward the end of the song, there are jingle bells. We were giggling about the bells. Jenny yelled out, "Beastie Boys Christmas album coming out December 2007!" (Good idea, btw.)

The album ends with a Moog effect. Wah-wah-wah-wah-wah!! Jenny said it sounds like the band were vaporized.

Our final assessment of The Mix-Up: WE LOVED IT!! Utterly and completely. To say we were wowed by it is an understatement. When we were done listening, Paul's mouth was hanging open, Jenny's eyes were gigantic, and I had a grin that reached from ear to ear.

I think if you're open to all kinds of music, you'll dig this album. My friend at the label really likes this album. She is not a fan of the Beastie Boys' earlier instrumentals at all. So, if you are among the fans who didn't like the Beastie Boys earlier instrumentals, don't automatically write off these new songs. You might like them.

I think music heads are gonna go ga-ga for this album. Musicians will be inspired by this album. This album has the power to draw new fans and make current fans renew their vow of fandom.


3:40 PM Anonymous said...

I love what I am reading...I love BS2000 so any comparison makes me happy. Thanks for the awesome review, can't wait to hear it myself.

4:12 PM Anonymous said...

Wow! I'm so excited to hear it.

Hook a brother up?

5:20 PM Anonymous said...

You are so lucky to be the first fans to hear the album.

5:25 PM Anonymous said...

i can't wait until june 26.

9:05 PM Anonymous said...

sounds awesome!

9:07 PM Anonymous said...

Yes, I feel extremely fortunate to have heard the album. It's killing me not to be able to revisit it though. It definately leaves you wanting more. This album is one of the funnest by far these goofballs have come up with. Can't wait to see em perform some of these gems at Sasquatch!

9:17 AM Anonymous said...

Great review! I was worried the new album would suck. I feel bad about doubting the Beasties. I am looking forward to hearing the album now.

11:57 AM Anonymous said...

"When we were done listening, Paul's mouth was hanging open, Jenny's eyes were gigantic, and I had a grin that reached from ear to ear."

NO DOUBT, THEY HAVE DONE IT AGAIN! thank you, hot sauce!!

1:35 PM Anonymous said...

Is it better than THE IN SOUNDS FROM WAY OUT?

2:10 PM Anonymous said...

I am happy to read you approve of Mike's drumming. :)

3:27 PM Anonymous said...

none of the songs have singing?

4:58 PM Machiventa said...

nice review, can't wait to hear it. i was sorely missing their jams on TT5B. 5 Borroughs's would've been a 5/5 if it did.

8:53 PM Hot Sauce said...

@Anon: It's different than "In Sounds." Whether it is better is up to the listener.

@Congas: None of the songs have singing.

11:24 PM Anonymous said...

i want to know if we will get to hear any of the new songs before the release date.

1:00 PM Vinny said...

Excellent review. I'm jealous! I can't wait to hear it for myself.

7:24 PM Anonymous said...

Cool review. I am looking forward to this release now. I hope they put out a video before June 26 so we can hear something from the album.

1:07 PM Anonymous said...

I like all the talk about a BS 2000 sound.

8:51 PM Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great review, describing sounds and feeling to each song...Organ beats and strange sounds....I love this stuff!

3:21 PM Anonymous said...

Is it just me or does Yauch look like a monk in the picture at the top? Anyway, can´t wait for The Mix-Up to drop. Great review!

10:07 PM Anonymous said...

Here's a prediction:

The called the mix up, right. They keep changing the release date, right? What if (and this is a huge what if)....

On June 26th, they release the instrumental album


Wouldn't that play right into the title??????

That would be typical B-Boys. I would happily buy both, just because of the creativity.

4:52 PM Anonymous said...

I've decided that I'm going to call the album...

Reel 2 Reel, Keys, Cheese, Cord, Umbrella, Mic, Books, Bongos, 7", Drinky, Fruit goodness!


7:02 PM RawSteel said...

Oh word?! I know this one is gonna be killer. I feel sorry for my other CDs in late June

8:36 PM Anonymous said...

The gala event was the best show I have ever been to in my life.

Actually, it was my first Beastie Boys show…ever and I’m the same age as them! I grew up listening to them as punks, rappers and all the other funky collaborations.

The new CD is true musical evolution by the boys. It is spectacular… with chillingly sexual rhythms and exotic world beat influence. The “instrumental” album really shows their personal growth as a band and individually as a man. To all you binky sucking twenty something’s… these MEN are AWESOME!!!! You don’t need lyrics to tell a story. Sit back and listen. I got my groove on!

3:26 PM Anonymous said...

Umm, all in all this CD is amazing, way different than anything they have ever done in the past and I love it!!!!! When I first heard that there was going to be no vocals I was a little disappointed but after hearing it I'm ecstatic.

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