Beck’s Next Release Will Be A DIY Songbook

    Want to get your hands on a vault of unreleased Beck tunes? You’ll get the chance this winter, but in order to hear the songs, well, you’ll have to play them yourself. Instead of heading down the traditional album route, Beck has teamed up with Dave Eggers’s publishing house McSweeney’s to produce what they’re calling a “song reader”–i.e., a book full of sheet music, just like the kind they used to make in the old days.

    The release, which carries only the title Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, is something out of a 20th century childhood, but the genre-spanning songwriter seems happy to take a step into the old world. 

    Complete with full-color, heyday-of-home-play-inspired art for each song and a lavishly produced hardcover carrying case (and, when necessary, ukelele notation), the Song Reader is an experiment in what an album can be at the end of 2012–an alternative that enlists the listener in the tone of every track, and that’s as visually absorbing as a dozen gatefold LPs put together.

    The songs here are as unfailingly exciting as you’d expect from their author, but if you want to hear “Do We? We Do,” or “Don’t Act Like Your Heart Isn’t Hard,” bringing them to life depends on you.

    As retrospective as the project seems to be, I can’t help but imagine it as a cutting-edge social album as fans across the globe will undoubtedly share their renditions of Beck’s new songs online. Maybe you do have to jump back to go forward sometimes.

    Beck Hansen’s Song Reader, which contains sheet music for 20 never-before-heard Beck songs, will be released this December via McSweeney’s. Is this a neat way of promoting fan interaction or do you prefer your artists to make the damn music themselves? [CoS]