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.
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
This year in music so far has been entertaining. As an older, and I believe wiser man, I can now say that I don’t need to listen to what’s popular. Because what’s popular is awful. They are calculated songs that make certain sounds at certain times based on what songs were big just before that. The mix between funk and pop has become popular again. So when we hear lawsuits being filed against major musical superstars are we all that surprised? It’s difficult not to get frustrated at what people listen to. To want them to go inside of your brain and understand why you love certain albums the way that you do.
All too often I am looking for something that is real. Real emotions, something distinct. Something from the heart. Music is one of the few ways that you can still produce this. Fortunately creating music has never been easier. Unfortunately, making a living off of your craft has never been more difficult. Musicians have Kickstarter campaigns. They plead for you to buy their music. Go see their live shows. It’s a tough area to be in as a consumer. You want to support your favourite bands. But it’s very difficult to throw down $10.00 for an album on Itunes knowing that only pennies get to the artist that you love.
Also, it feels as though you are wasting your money. Everybody else is downloading music for free. Why would you ever waste money on something that you can get for free? This is the slippery slope that we walk. I have made it my mission that I will download the album, and if it’s worthy, I will purchase it on vinyl. I will also make an effort to see their live show. Attempting to be an ambassador for their album through all social media. Everything pop is crap. It’s like eating McDonald’s every single day of your life. It taste so good going down. There is no substance to it. Its calculated sounds that your brain distinguishes as pleasant to hear. Similar to being at the casino.
It has taken me years to perfect my ways of retrieving new music. Finding out who to trust when it comes to musical recommendations. What websites to turn to. It’s a part-time job. When nobody likes the same music as you do, you begin to question whether what you like is actually superior. It’s a lot to take in being a musical connoisseur. Then you will begin to find people that are into the same genres of music that you are into. You will have an instant bond with them. Knowing that their love for the Beta Band coincides with your love. You will lose fellow music junkies to different styles of music that don’t suit your taste. Whispering “you’ve changed man. What is this Nintendo music that you are listening to?” Instantly you have lost respect for them. Maybe you can’t even trust their opinion in other things now. If they are wrong about this, what else have they been wrong about?
Country fans are by far the worst. They don’t want any emotion in their music. Just going to party’s to drink and socialize. Every lyric is about drinking, trucks, and having a good time. What kind of shit is this? Don’t you know music is supposed to make you think? Not just make you feel good all of the time. The metal heads have zero time for anything else. They show their respect for your great taste in music by smashing into you and pushing you around. The bigger the beating, the more respect that you have. Electronic dance music can only be understood on drugs. “This beat has been played 78 consecutive times. Are you not sick of jumping up and down yet? Don’t put the coloured pant on my face. Why are you telling me how beautiful I am?”
Indie rock is the only true form of music. My musical collection is the only one that should be heard. I will allow you to have an opinion. It won’t be right, but I will allow you to speak. I may change my mind about certain genres of music. It’s allowed, and cannot be disputed. If my circle of music somehow allows any of your circle of music into its vicinity you should feel blessed. My knowledge of music has been consumed and studied. Now, why isn’t everybody listening to what I listen to?