Hot Shots II

Hot Shots II

5.0 1
by The Beta Band
     
 

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With their mix of acoustic guitars, trip-hop beats, singsong melodies, chanted choruses, and kitchen-sink instrumentation, the Beta Band amble and ramble through styles and sounds. While that could make for a confusing hodgepodge, their oh-so-catchy tunes elevate the proceedings: In the movie High Fidelity, when Rob, the recordSee more details below

Overview

With their mix of acoustic guitars, trip-hop beats, singsong melodies, chanted choruses, and kitchen-sink instrumentation, the Beta Band amble and ramble through styles and sounds. While that could make for a confusing hodgepodge, their oh-so-catchy tunes elevate the proceedings: In the movie High Fidelity, when Rob, the record store owner, places a stack of the band's first U. S. release on the counter and proclaims, "I will now sell five copies of The 3 E.P.'s by the Beta Band," the customers can't resist bopping to "Dry the Rain." Hot Shots II avoids the excesses that occasionally marred the Scottish band's second release, 1999's The Beta Band; it's less erratic but, fortunately, no less eccentric and eclectic. Songs such as the melancholy, haunting "Gone" and the laid-back "Al Sharp" take few stylistic detours, and overall there are fewer literal bells and whistles. The album is driven by slow, captivating beats and bass lines ("Broke" even steals some Timbaland-style funk, to wonderful effect); intricately layered instrumentation; and hypnotic, memorable melodies. But Hot Shots II still has tricks up its sleeve: "Human Being" builds to an electric guitar rave-up, and the album's most willfully odd track, "Won," mingles bits of Harry Nilsson's "One" with reggae toasting, dub bass effects, turntable scratching, and references to Blondie's "The Tide Is High" -- oddly, it works. By balancing consistency with eccentricity, Hot Shots II is the Betas' best album yet.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - John Bush
Following an LP that was slagged by even the group themselves before release, the Beta Band got down to business for their second proper record. While their self-titled debut reveled in a near-blinding collage of samples, synthpads, noise, and obtuse figures, for Hot Shots II the group took a much different path. Many of the tracks are (comparatively) quiet songs, the productions pared down to minimal proportions and focused on slow, darkly descending chords. The band's methods are innovative as before, but now they've taken on the challenge of saying more with less -- with fewer production fragments to obscure the songs, they're left to survive on their own. During the opener "Squares," a minute passes before the song even begins to make sense; a few glimpses of beats and basslines are the only accompaniment to Stephen Mason's chanted vocals, until the chorus sweeps in to reveal a tight, beautiful trip-hop-with-strings production. "Gone" does well with just bass, piano, and background vocals from the band. Elsewhere, the Beta Band rely on spare bits -- stuttered acoustic guitar samples, whining melodica, regal horns in the background -- to get their point across, but aren't afraid to rock out either. While the songwriting certainly isn't direct, it's much less consciously inscrutable compared to the madcap toss-offs spread over The Beta Band. Understandably suspicious when the group promised an even better record their second time out, listeners have the proof with Hot Shots II.
Entertainment Weekly - David Browne
"B+"... The Beta band may be the only Brits of the last few years who don't sound like [Radiohead]. Part folk-rock ragamuffins and part sound-collage ironists, the Betas are in search of the proverbial lost chord, blending folk with dub, trip-hop, and whatever sonic gewgaws strike their fancy.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/17/2001
Label:
Astralwerks
UPC:
0724381044629
catalogNumber:
10446

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