Chief Beef – Something About Rock
By Dillon Pritchard Tuesday, 20 Feb 2007

Forget all the subgenres—Chief Beef is straight up, in-your-face, passionately performed rock music. And so it follows that the title of the Phoenix, AZ based band’s debut album, Something about Rock, couldn’t have been more aptly named. Pull up a chair, sit down at the table of rock, and prepare for a hefty plate of the tastiest of musical meats.

First, some backstory. Chief Beef was originally founded in late 2004 as a four-piece band by current Minibosses’ guitarists John Lipfert and Aaron Burke, along with drummer Stewart Alaniz, and John’s bass-wielding wife, Christine. Early in 2005, the band recorded and released three demo tracks. Sadly, Burke parted ways with the Beef in late 2005. That leads us up to the current incarnation of the band. A hard hitting power trio, John, Christine, and Stewart continued on, successfully reformatting the existing demos for three piece duties, and composing many new tunes as well.

Being a big fan of the Minibosses myself, I was stoked to find out that their guitarists had another project going. Chief Beef’s demos, low quality though they might have been, impressed me from the very first time I heard them. Of note is that two of those demos made it onto the album (albeit revised and re-recorded for one guitar instead of two). The opening track, Reactions, is one of them. There couldn’t have been a better opening track for this CD—the intro speaks of overdriven guitar and clever drum fills, setting the overall heavy-yet-clear tone of the album. Listen to the title track a few songs in, which has the line “Spend the whole day dreaming of rocking your face off” in it, and it’s hard to call this anything but a rock album. Regardless of that, continue on and there are some lighter tracks that make for a good variety, such as “Quitting” and the final track, “Post Show Blues”. (And, might I add, there couldn’t have been a better song for a closer.)

If there is one complaint (a beef, you might say) I have with this album, it’s the vocals. It pains me to say that, because I’ve met the lead singer a couple times before and he’s one of the nicest guys I know, but I’m being honest here. There are some points where it’s hard not to realize that the vocals are off-pitch. John’s voice isn’t bad; no, far from it. In fact, it’s only really obvious on songs like “Gray” and “Relieve-E-O”, where it seems that he struggles, perhaps straining the limits of his vocal range. It’s minor, but it’s there. Then again, I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, so the less music-savvy probably wouldn’t care at all, or even notice.

That said, all the instruments are masterfully performed. Out of the hundred or so times that I’ve listened to the album, I haven’t spotted a single mistake. The audio quality and engineering is superb for not being on a major record label. The guitar tone is amazing. (I’d even go so far as to say I envy it.) The drums are brilliant. The lyrics are heartfelt and down-to-earth. And as another plus, these guys are great live. Overall, Something About Rock is a quality album, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for anyone who enjoys rock music.


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