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A Beta Bander By Himself

King Biscuit Time
No Style EP

Just in case you're one of those people (like me) who enjoyed the hell out of the Beta Band's two 1999 releases (The Three EPs and their technical debut Self-Titled release), you can find at least some solice in this EP by member Steve Mason until their next full length drops. Although the group released a short single earlier this year ("Sequencer / To You Alone"), they're currently working on their true follow-up for release in the next year. Singer (and musician) Mason has been even busier, though, and this No Style EP contains 8 tracks that capture some of the spirit of the band, as well as taking off in some new directions.

This domestic release is actually a compilation of two different 4-song EPs that were released on the Regal label, so it's actually even a better deal for those in the US looking to get the music at a more reasonable price. The main thing that's actually familiar about the sound of tracks (besides some that have a similar musical sound) is the very recognizable, laid-back vocal approach of Mason.

It's the opening track of the disc that actually sounds the most like the Beta Band with it's sloppy hip-hop type beat and all kinds of goofy sound effects like cowbells and a touch of guitars. Vocals drift over the entire song until they culminate in a sing-along chorus and it also makes for one of the best tracks on the disc. After a short instrumental track, the dreamy song "I Love You" drops with a thick beat and all kinds of shimmering guitar and chiming effects.

Mason even throws some drum and bass beats into the release on the track "Fatheriver." It's a strange juxtaposition with his spaced-out vocals drifting over the snappy beats, but it actually works a lot better than you might think it does. The album them closes out with a nice instrumental, the less effective droning of "Little White" and the very Ween-esque closer of "Eye O' The Dug." Basically, if you like the Beta Band, this is a nice collection of songs by a major member and it's something that works well most of the time anyway.

Rating: 7.5