"Music has that magical ability to transform one’s mood and atmosphere. This record achieves that in a powerful way."
—--Capitol EVP Greg Thompson
Veteran Artist’s Acclaimed First Album for Capitol Breaks New Ground in the Marketplace
The Top 5 debut of Beck’s Morning Phase—the trailblazing artist’s first release for Steve Barnett’s Capitol—comes more than 20 years after he crash-landed into the zeitgeist with PoMo sensation "Loser."

That the kid who jumbled folkie surrealism, stoner-punk attitude and hip-hop beats on that breakout track (and subsequent hits like "Where It’s At") is still a top-selling act and exploring ever-richer musical territory is cause for celebration. The gorgeous, introspective Morning Phase may be a "mature" work, with orchestral touches and some of Beck’s loveliest vocals, but it’s as inviting and inventive as earlier touchstones like Sea Change and Mutations.

"I took a drive up Pacific Coast Highway," says Capitol EVP and recent West Coast transplant Greg Thompson, "and this album was the ultimate soundtrack for the surroundings—the mountains, the ocean, the beautiful California landscape. I told my staff, ‘If I could just get every gatekeeper in my car for that ride, nothing else would need to happen.’"

We’re not falling for that get-in-my-car thing again, but we know what Greg means about the album.

Morning Phase’s 87k debut exceeded that of his prior release, 2008’s Modern Guilt, even in a declining sales market. In addition to its impressive U.S. bow, the album made a strong showing internationally—it scored #2 debuts in Canada and Ireland, #3 on Denmark’s combined official chart (and #1 on its digital chart), #4 in the U.K., #5 in Australia, Switzerland and the Netherlands, and #8 in New Zealand and Belgium.

These numbers represent career-high chart positions for the veteran artist. Morning Phase also hit #1 at iTunes in 13 markets, and Top 5 in another 39.

"iTunes clearly understood how special the record was; that’s why we did the instant-grat program with them," Thompson points out. "This was the perfect record for that approach, giving people a chance to sample tracks." An iTunes Radio "First Play" streaming engagement also undoubtedly helped convey the album’s consistency. "It all came together in a perfect storm," relates Thompson. "That gave the consumer many reasons to vote yes. The results were fantastic."

Following the success of single "Blue Moon" at Triple A radio, Thompson says, the label is "aggressively" pursuing the track at Alternative. "We’re essentially launching the Modern Rock campaign out of the street date," he notes. "It’s a big priority for us."

A video is planned to coincide with Beck’s Ellen appearance on 4/1. In the meantime, the song will be heard on this Sunday night’s episode on HBO’s Girls. Other key TV looks are in the works; the artist’s recent SNL set, meanwhile, showcased not only the single but an orchestral rendition of "Wave" with Beck’s dad, famed arranger/composer David Campbell, conducting.

Starbucks has been a key partner on the physical side, with the album going into the coffee titan’s bajillion stores this week. An inspired online video teaser for the tie-in, in which the artist’s portrait is limned in latte foam, reminds us that Beck’s audience has "matured" with him, even as they’ve traded in their bongs for Venti cups.

Streaming was also a factor in building consumer awareness and appetite, with more than 1.5 million Spotify streams, among other activity. A social media push is ongoing.

Strong reviews, always vital for a record like this, further stoked interest.
Rolling Stone’s Will Hermes gave Morning Phase 4 ½ stars, declaring, "It feels like an instant folk-rock classic." Randall Roberts of the L.A. Times described the set as a superior sequel to Sea Change, boasting a "far lusher sound, with stronger melodies, deeper grooves and more expressive singing." NPR’s Tom Moon praised the set as a counterweight to our frantic times, describing it as "deliciously, magnificently slow."

"That it’s a quieter, gentler record is part of its power," Thompson muses. "Music has that magical ability to transform one’s mood and atmosphere. This record achieves that in a powerful way."

“We just had to have acampaign that was seamless, unique and beautiful as the album, and that’s whatwe attempted to do," says CMG EVP
Michelle Jubelirer. "We wanted the campaign to mirror those qualities; it’s a high bar, but we’re doing our best to reach that.”

Monday sees the announcement of his complete tour dates, with Beck anchoring Coachella (4/11 and 4/18), performing at Edgefest (4/16) and continuing well into the summer with June’s Firefly, July’s Pitchfork and more.

Beck hasn’t exactly been idle since Modern Guilt, the final album on his longtime deal with Geffen. He’s collaborated in various capacities with composer Philip Glass, Jack White, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore, Seu Jorge, Childish Gambino and Pavement alumnus Stephen Malkmus, among many others, and contributed four songs to be performed by the fictional band Sex Bob-omb in the 2010 flick Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

In 2012 he grabbed considerable indie ink with his innovative Song Reader sheet-music project and related contest, which inspired an array of artists to cover his compositions. Rolling Stone included it in its Top 50 albums of the year, despite the fact that it was only released in book form (published by hipster enclave McSweeney’s).

With Morning Phase, it’s clear that Beck has entered a bright new stage of a fascinating career. "When everyone else goes right, Beck tends to go left," observes Thompson. "It’s what he’s always done, and it’s always changed the landscape."

A not-so-subtle reminder to fill out that ballot. (10/15a)
The lives behind live music. (10/14a)
The Grammy chief takes our call. (10/14a)
It will rain again this fall--we guarantee it. (10/13a)
First music in 15 years. (10/14a)
Bring your umbrella.
Mulling possible surprises.
Why not wear a mask indoors?
What drugs will help us get there?

 First Name

 Last Name


Captcha: (type the characters above)