Wednesday, September 21, 2005

New pastiche heroes

When The Beta Band called it quits a year ago August, the genre-hopping heroes to zeros cited perhaps the most astonishing excuse in the book: They were disappointed by record sales. You mean they were trying to be popular, gasped thousands of faithful fans who'd suffered Mason and Co's painful eccentricities ("The Beta Band Rap") for the sake of exhilarating highs like "Broken Up Adingdong" and "Inner Meet Me." Because if they were actually trying to move units, they could have taken a more direct route than mashing classic 60s pop, folk, techno, country, funk, dub (and whatever else caught their ear that particular day), applying a liberal paste of obscure samples and routinely pushing the 8-minute mark. In terms of artistic output, luck (or massive talent) was usually on their side and in their too-short history the Betas created some of the best music in any genre. But with a few exceptions ("Dry The Rain," and, yeah, that last album) their work wasn't usually very accessible.

God, do I miss them. Compared to the Beta Band, almost everything on the pop side of things sounds dull as drying paint, everything on the experimental end, pretentious and tiresome. I console myself with the back catalog, Steve Mason's King Biscuit Time project and fab new pastiche pop bands like The Shortwave Set.

But really, I shouldn't say "like," because no one right now sounds quite like Shortwave. On their Debt Collection LP and Slingshot EP (buy through iTunes in the U.S.), the London-based band heaps thrift-store record samples, improbable dance grooves and odd moments of sonic breakdown on a base of acoustic guitar and charming boy/girl vocals. These songs aren't as sonically complex or detailed as the Beta's work and they don't employ the same studio wizardry, but songs like "Slingshot" and "Is It Any Wonder" are intricate and imaginative. The band's two releases are some of the freshest, smartest, catchiest recordings I've heard all year. People are finally catching up to the challenges of eclectic pop, and I think (I hope) Shortwave Set's gonna get the audience they deserve.

Is It Any Wonder (mp3) - The Shortwave Set

The Free Load (mp3) - The Shortwave Set

And I know someone has sampled the Jetson's theme song (can't remember who), but wouldn't it be fun to hear more of this? (Thanks, Edison!)

Jetsons Theme Song (mp3)


Blogger -tr0y- said...

Amy Amy Amy--tapping into a very soft spot in my heart: The Beta Band. i've been celebrating them for so long--and mourning now as well. i hear there's a greatest hits coming sometime? should we sponsor a massive listening party??

10:15 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Aren't we always in musical sync? If a Greatest comes out SYF will have to do another post in honor.

6:40 PM  
Blogger John Bilour said...

Amy great name I'm lov it and 'AMY'so pretty right but a pity.....I'm.....

10:04 PM  

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