Doing a 180: The Beta Band
The term “folktronica” is not one which generally tends to be casually uttered aloud by anyone outside of those who work earn their livings as record store employees or music critics, but that's the term that's been used in the past to describe the late, great Beta Band, who came roaring out of Edinburgh, Scotland in the mid-1990s.
Okay, so maybe “roaring” isn't quite the right word to describe their arrival, but you know what we mean: they made a big impression right off the bat, and even though they closed up shop in 2004, their music proved highly influential and is still remembered fondly.
The Beta Band's first three EPs have been reissued and are now available on 180-gram vinyl, and while we realize that many people came into their catalog relatively late in the game and therefore picked up the compilation album The Three E.P.'s, purists will really appreciate the sonic difference of hearing them individually on vinyl.
Champion Versions: The band's debut EP leads off with the song that served as many people's introduction to their music, albeit three years after the EP's initial release: “Dry the Rain,” which appeared on the soundtrack to the film adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity. This would be the best place to start with the Beta Band even if it wasn't their debut, but since it is, that works out quite nicely.
The Patty Patty Sound: It's a bit of a cop-out to call this an E.P., since it's actually almost 40 minutes long, but that's what happens when you have a recurring tendency to release songs that last well over five minutes…or, in the case of “The Monolith,” over 15 minutes. Possibly not the best place for a Beta Band beginning to start their catalog, but nonetheless a must-own when all's said and done.
Los Amigos Del Beta Banditos: A decidedly shorter affair - the average track length is under four and a half minutes, if you can believe that, but still a strong one. In fact, at the risk of getting mildly controversial, we'd go so far as to say that this may actually be the best of the three E.P.'s, if only because it delivers the band's sound in the most succinct fashion. But your personal mileage may vary on this matter, of course, so it's probably best that you buy all three, just to be safe.