2001, Music

Hot Shots II (2001) by The Beta Band

Their debut was a surprising delight. I’ve since read that they may have disowned it but I really enjoyed it so I find that a little weird. (It’s been long enough that I don’t remember well enough if it was just too long or if it was too ambitious or too silly. Regardless, despite its flaws I really enjoyed it.) But time passed and I honestly forgot about it so this second album also turned into a very pleasant surprise. Oh to live in a world where such things happen more often…

This band remains audacious but goofy, which is a winning combination when you can pull it off. They often throw the kitchen sink into songs and throw things together which don’t make any sense. I thoroughly enjoy that kind of thing when it’s done well and confidently, and that’s certainly true here. Various genre labels have been applied to this band but I find it pretty hard to categorize what they do – they don’t particularly sound like many of the bands in the genres that are used to categorize them. For example, sometimes the “indietronica” or “trip hop” label feels appropriate but they are often a live band so, um, what do you do with that? What I can say is that you don’t always know what to expect next (musically) and that one song doesn’t prepare you for the next, though that is not a criticism in the case of this record.

The songs are mostly pretty catchy, which helps with music this diverse and fractured. And their lyrics are often goofy (though not always) and sometimes extremely self-aware in a way that I generally appreciate. They are delivered with confidence and charisma, which helps.

I’ve now heard two of their three LPs (still haven’t heard their early EPs yet, alas). And I find myself wondering why it took me so long. This kind of thing is right up my alley and yet wasn’t aware of them until I was 37, which feels unfortunate.

Inventive and fun at the same time, which is a hard thing to do.


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