What the hell happened to music videos?

If you’re like me, you look back fondly on the days when TV channels like Much Music and  MTV actually played music and wonder what the hell happened. Where’d the music go? Why are there Oompa Loompas from Jersey on my TV set instead of Headbanger’s Ball? And what the f*** is a “Snooki”?

Look no further than this satirical video to provide you with some spectacular insight into what happened to the music.

Now you know. (And knowing is half the battle).

Review of The Beta Band: The Three E.P.’s

Please read our selection of The Beta Band: The Three E.P.’s before reading our reviews below.
Summary: 
The Beta Band: The Three E.P.’s was a choice that we were all excited about after getting a tidbit of the song Dry the Rain from the movie High Fidelity. The good news was that particular song was indeed amazing and worth checking out. Listen now:

Now that you have listened to that song, we’d all recommend you save your money and time on listening to our buying the rest of the album. None of us really ‘got it’ and all the other songs either just sounded like elements from Dry the Rain or were just weird. I(Darren) had better nail my next pick or I think these guys will kick me out of the Sonic Collective. Lol.
What was cool about The Beta Band: The Three E.P.’s:

  • Dry the Rain. That’s it.
  • Ok, we’ll give them credit for trying something different as that is the only way to innovate. Maybe they just got a little too high after they wrote Dry the Rain.

What we didn’t find so cool :

  • Nothing else on the album was even remotely close to Dry the Rain. Many, including us, felt ripped off and cheated.
  • What the hell is that Monolith song? Can that be considered a song?
  • The other 10 songs all sounded incomplete and had similar basic structure and chords. “Hey, let’s just fill this album so we can say we have an album but we really just have one song.”
  • We didn’t get it.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would we recommend?: 2
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 2
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.
 

Our Full Reviews

 
Darren Scott
Darren’s Review
When I picked The Beta Band: The Three E.P.’s I really knew nothing about them other then the clip from the movie High Fidelity. I was really excited as the song Dry the Rain that is featured in the movie sounded awesome. When I did a quick search they seemed to be a very influential band as they were said to combine alternative rock, hip-hop and atmospheric music in a unique way. I’ll admit I was mildly disappointed with some past picks like Kraftwerk and Fela Kuti as I had high hopes and they let me down a bit. So let’s dive into The Three E.P.’s.
Starting off with Dry the Rain I was really pumped. Finally getting to hear the full song I was really excited as it left me wanting more. Such a great song. The next 5 songs had some moments for me and I did like B and A and I liked Inner Meet Me as well. I couldn’t help but think I was hearing the same chords over and over though and a few of the songs just sounded like strange outros that you’d usually hear at the end of albums as just filler.
And then I got to the song Monolith. What… the… f@$k…!? Ok, I love music. All kinds of music. But I can’t be a music snob and pretend I get stuff like this. I can imagine pretentious music-store-types saying how they really get this song and what they were saying. I call bullshit. I just think these guys were baked. Super baked.
I finished the album but was so put off by Monolith that it was hard to get through the final 5 songs. Again, the final songs seemed similar and incomplete to me. Any one of the 10 non Dry the Rain(Awesome) and Monolith(Batshit crazy) songs might stand as one of those tracks that are on an album that is ok but thank God the rest are better. Unfortunately, there are 10 of those songs. Boo-urns.
I will credit them for trying to do something very different(read super-baked), as that is the only way to innovate, and they did nail Dry the Rain, but I was left quite disappointed and let down in what I felt could have been a real winner. This wasn’t for me and I’m not sure who it is for, but I picture mad-at-the-world Emo kids(Are Emo kids still a thing?) with black fingernail polish on sitting in self-loathing really understanding where the Beta Band was going with their first 3 EPs.
Darren Scott
My personal opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 2.5 (1.5 of this is just for Dry the Rain)
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 2
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg’s Review

The Three EP’s represents all that’s wrong with the music business. Okay, not all that’s wrong, but the album suffers from a problem that is part of a larger trend that has led to the industry fighting for its life as everyone tries something new, hoping that something – anything – will stick. It pisses me off. Every time I listened to the album, I got more mad than I was the last time. GAH!

The problem I’m speaking about isn’t new, but it’s a symptom of a larger issue that led to the music industry being in such dire straits today. That is, the song that opens the album (and which got the most exposure) is completely and utterly different from anything else on the album. 

Dry the Rain is a fantastic, rolling jam that builds into a superb, head-bobbing arrangement that I could happily listen to on repeat. And then, after that, the rest of the album is just shite. Noise and random unfocused warbling with weak vocals and meandering, pointless lyrics that go nowhere and mean nothing. If I bought this album based on hearing Dry the Rain, I’d be pissed. In fact, this is exactly what happened with the last CD I ever bought, around 2008, a self-titled album by a band called The Servant. I loved their song called Cells, so I bought the CD and it blew. I literally threw it away, just like I threw away $15 at the record store.

Like I said, the problem isn’t new. I remember my Mom telling me that when she was a teenager in the UK she would buy every Beatles album that came out, and was always disappointed when she spent her allowance money on an album that had new cover art, 1 new song, and 6 B-sides of songs she already owned. As the music industry enters its death throes, we’re starting to see the inevitable eventuality of that greed. People woke up, then they started buying only singles, and after that, albums didn’t matter anymore.

At any rate, the only other song I sort-of liked was She’s The One, which had some interesting elements but was just too repetitive and lightweight to really grab me. Perhaps my criticisms aren’t really fair – I mean, this is just a band doing what they do and I doubt there was any cynical master plan to dupe people out of money – but after a really cracking opening track, it just sucks that the rest was pointless noise.

My personal opinion: –
Would I recommend?: –
Influenced my tastes: –
Worth the hype? –

 
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300
Scott’s Review
Prior to listening to The Three E.P.’s, I had only heard The Beta Band when featured in the movie High Fidelity. The short bit of Dry the Rain that played in that film stuck with me and I found myself humming it here and there over the years despite never having heard it in full. Listening to The Three E.P.’s gave me a chance to enjoy Dry the Rain completely, and also realize that track’s easily the high point of the album by far.
These three E.P.’s were released individually between 1997-98, and then put together as an entire album, creating a non-cohesive final product. The first four tracks certainly are the catchiest and friendliest on the ears. Ultimately the rhythms, vocals, and overall feel are almost the same track to track. Their sound certainly is consistent, overly so, rendering them a one trick pony. By the time I was six tracks in, I felt as though I was simply listening to reimagined versions of the earlier songs.
It’s not all bad, with I Know and B and A being nice enough background tracks, but also feeling halfway on route something Beck does much better. Dog’s Got a Bone is all right and almost becomes a rich song but ultimately sounds like something a first year college band cranked out over a long night of too many bong hits. Then you get Monolith – what the hell?
Many of the tracks aimlessly meander, going on and on without arriving at any real climax or point. They employ too many whacky/unnecessary sound effects throughout that detract from the songs themselves, as if they were trying to confuse and unnecessarily challenge the listener.
After many listens I consistently found myself going from very much enjoying the first couple of tracks to being downright annoyed and struggling to finish the album. In the end The Beta Band had one solid EP in them and perhaps should have stopped there.
My personal opinion: 2
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 2
 
alain-dupuisAlain’s Review

I can’t honestly say I’ve ever heard of The Beta Band prior to Darren’s pick. I don’t recall having seen High Fidelity either, though that video clip of the movie showing Cusack’s character selling the band’s music made me think that I’d be in for some conventional, albeit slightly quirky 90s indie pop rock. Alas, in what I’ve noticed becoming a bit of a trend with The Sonic Collective’s picks, I very quickly realized that this album wasn’t what I had anticipated it might be.
Let’s take a moment to break down the song “B+A”. A vaguely instrumental song, it spends the first three minutes of its six and a half minute length straddling an interesting line between surfer rock and electronica before making an abrupt and sharp turn into a high-energy guitar-driven song powered by a simple but throbbing percussion. There are no discernible lyrics, though vocals are present. I think it’s probably my favourite track on the album, though the jury is still out.
Then you’ve got “House Song”. It’s primarily made use of looping vocal effects the likes of which one could easily reproduce on an iPad with a $3 app. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. On the contrary, it’s simple and creative. There’s a catchy rap breakdown midway through the song that adds a whole different dimension to it.
Then you’ve got “Monolith”. It’s like 15 minutes long, and full of what can only be described as samples of random noises that reminded me simultaneously of the Mexican Riviera and an alien abduction. It was intermittently filled with weird glitchy noises and a bassline doing it’s best impression of a seam ship’s horn. Definitely not my jam. I actually found myself irritable whenever I listened to this song.
I think my least favourite aspect of The Three E.P.s is the sheer repetitiveness of many of the tracks. It made it difficult for me to get into. My best guess is that because I’ve spent much of my life listening to music with that old familiar song structure of verse/chorus/verse/chorus etc, The Three E.P.s sounds foreign to my music sensibilities, making it harder for me to get into than it probably should be. If I’m honest, this is a reflection of my own narrowly defined tastes in music, and a sign that the Sonic Collective is doing me the good service of helping broaden my musical horizons. Maybe yours too.
My personal opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced my tastes? 1
Worth the hype?2.5

Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight

Most music fans have heard of, and likely listened to some of Cheap Trick at Budokan. The iconic live recording was released in 1979 and propelled Cheap Trick to stardom back in their home country and around the world. But this was actually their fourth album, originally recorded for Japan release only, for their rabid fans that had followed them closely since their first album in 1977. It was recorded on the heels of the release of the band’s third studio album Heaven Tonight, which is now regarded as their best studio effort.

 

The band formed in 1973 in Illinois, USA, and took a number of years to find the right members and gel, but once they did, they went on to crank out an impressive amount of material in a very short period of time. They released five big albums between the winter of 1977 and summer of 1979, forming the backbone of what still today comprises much of their live set. This output is seriously impressive and their sound was never better than on Heaven Tonight.

 

I really got in to Cheap Trick at Budokan in February 2014 and think it’s one of the best live albums ever. Their sound is so raw and authentic; it completely draws me in. But like most live albums it’s more or less a compilation of greatest hits at that time, and I’d never heard an entire Cheap Trick studio album. I’ve seen Cheap Trick guitarist and main composer Rick Nielsen perform with Foo Fighters a few times over the last couple years and this got me interested in diving a bit deeper in to the world of Cheap Trick. 

 

So here we are – selected is what is widely considered to be the greatest studio album by Cheap Trick, a legendary rock band, referenced in countless pop culture sources over the decades, including the movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High (the first time I ever heard their name) and yours for devouring – Heaven Tonight. Enjoy the ride.

Read our review of Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight here

Something new: During the selection process for this month’s pick, I came to enjoy a number of noteworthy albums I recommend you give a listen to if you have time: