Beck plays 'Colbert', drops new video, releases 'Song Reader' compilation
BeckVEVO/ YouTube

Tuesday was a busy day in the Beck-o-sphere. On Monday night, the alt-rock icon stopped by The Colbert Report to get a gentle ribbing from Stephen -- sample question: “Why do you jump around in styles so often, because it must be hell on record store clerks to try to figure out where to put your next album” -- and perform a couple of new songs. The first was the lovely Morning Phase cut “Heart is a Drum.” A very Nick Drake-sounding number, “Heart is a Drum” is a shining example of the album’s “contemplative” sound, as Colbert aptly called it.

During the performance, footage of the song’s video was displayed behind the band, and the clip got an official release today. Directed by Sophie Mueller, the new “Heart is a Drum” video suits the song’s ruminative mood, as Beck wanders around an eerie old farmhouse, meets up with some astronauts and the grim reaper, and pals around with what appears to be a “Loser”-era version of his younger self. Incredibly, the video is even weirder than that description. Check it out above.

For their second song, an online exclusive, Beck and his band also played “Heaven’s Ladder,” a cut from his new Song Reader compilation, which hits stores today. The song is Beck’s only contribution to the unusual album, in which artists like Jack White, Fun. Norah Jones, and many others tackle songs that Beck composed for his Song Reader songbook, which was originally released in 2012. The resulting album is a fascinating mixture of the sensibilities of the performer and composer, and serves as more evidence that the idiosyncratic artist is making a case for himself as one of the premiere songwriters of his generation.

Following a short break, Beck’s busy 2014 schedule continues as his summer tour rolls onto Salt Lake City for a show at the Pioneer Park on Aug. 14, followed by a performance at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado on Aug. 15.