The Beta Band: Underrated and Unknown

With the recent boom of many indie rock bands we must look back upon the bands that were ahead of their time. I am going to review multiple bands that I don’t think get their due in the music industry. This is part one of the underrated and the unknown. The first band is a band from Scotland that has had varied amounts of success. It’s one of those bands that the talent outweighs the sales. The band that I would like to feature today is the Beta Band.

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The Beta Band had a slight moment in the sun when the movie High Fidelity came out. There is a great scene when John Cusack leans over to one of the co-workers in his record shop and says “I will now sell five copies of The Three E.P.’s by The Beta Band.” You then see multiple people in the shop begin to slowly get into the groove of the classic hit “Dry the Rain.” This is the exact moment that I went out searching for this record. I was able to start my journey through the history of the band. At the point that I found out about this, they already had a stellar catalogue.

One thing about the Beta Band is that no two albums sound alike. The 3 EP’s is kind of a mish mash of sounds that has an unbelievable amount of songs that are single worthy. Steve Mason has a calming space voice that is able to cut through the sounds of the songs like butter. While listening to the 3 EP’s you can really hear the three different times that this album was compiled from. “Dog’s Got a Bone” has a soft sound to it, that could thrive in a Scottish pub after work. “Dr. Baker” gives a you a shot of insanity within the sound of a piano. The Beta Band have a certain weirdness to them that will put a smile on your face. Knowing exactly when to apply some pressure, and when to alleviate it. Almost to the point where they are weaving in and out of the best parts of your mind.

It’s extremely impressive on how different the two main albums are. Beautiful acoustics, and feel in the 3 EP’s, and then the calming space sounds of Hot Shots II. It’s almost as though they found multiple sounds that can mimic the sounds of an acoustic guitar. On this album especially, Steve Mason’s voice is able to be an instrument itself. Hot Shots II is produced with such grace. Background vocals that flow with Mason’s, and sounds that are able to match the feel that they would like to produce. It is almost as though that they want to transport you into this extremely particular area of your mind and this is the sound that will allow your brain to make it there.

The movement of this record is extremely important. They know the exact point of the album where they need to tune the guitars back in. “Human Being” is a perfect example of that. A guitar solo near the end of the song is executed perfectly. You can only layer space sounds so long without having people start to tune you out. They pull the chord directly after song, and put a parachute back onto the album to allow the album to land safely back onto the grassy bed of calmness.

It’s very hard to pinpoint the sound that the Beta Band is known for. They don’t sound like anything else that is out currently. The Caribou album “Andorra” is the closest to feel that I can get to Hot Shots II. Throw on “Squares” to really get a feel for this band, and see if they can be a fit for a sunny Sunday afternoon for you. I guarantee that you will be sold. Unfortunately trying to find any albums on vinyl is nearly impossible. I am just hoping that with the driving force that is indie rock; that we can find time for the space sounds of the Beta Band.

The Three EP’s – 9.2/10
Hot Shots II – 9.7/10

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