The Three E.P.’s album cover
The Three E.P.’s

The Beta Band

1998
Regal

For a brief period in the late 90s, The Beta Band looked like the future of music. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke claimed that the group had “a Beta Band moment” while searching for a post-OK Computer direction, Oasis got sued for ripping them off and John Cusack even gave them a shout out in High Fidelity. It didn’t quite pan out like that (dismissing their debut album proper as “fucking awful” in the press didn’t help), but the dazzling invention of their early EPs still shines 25 years later. Some of its cut-and-paste, DIY clatter comes across like Beck had he lived in a potting shed in the Scottish Highlands rather than LA, with tracks like “B+A” and the 15-minute experimentalism of “Monolith” landing closer to Can or Boards Of Canada. Threading everything together, however, are the band’s hypnotic grooves and the sparkling songwriting of frontman Steve Mason. The future might not have been theirs, but with The Three E.P.’s, The Beta Band left behind one of the great records of the era.

Chris Catchpole

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