This week, I am ‘Spillin’ The Beans on a new album by Beta Days called S.T.T. (which means Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday – an acronym for the days of the week on which the album was recorded).
Beta Days is a Rhode Island band featuring multi-instrumentalist and former Wandas drummer Bill Bierce. The press release says that
Beta Days evolved from Bill Bierce’s, late night writing sessions that would start around 3AM. Fighting isolation, lack of sleep, and depression to write and record enough material for a full length LP, S.T.T. Sadly, Bierce’s mother passed away during the album’s mixing, while simultaneously his father occupied a long-term hospice stay from a head wound which left him in a vegetative state. Bierce stayed the course and battled to complete the record. The end result is a hazy reflection on idealized youth, relationships, isolation, and the drudgery of adult life. All of this is presented through a prism of evasive lyrics and tightly arranged instrumentation, leaving the listener to draw their own meaning from the songs.
The album was released at the end of June.
So, without further ado, on to the music. The band consist of;
William Bierce: Guitar, Vocals
Luke Sullivan: Guitar, Vocals
Keith McEachern: Bass
Nate Goncalo: Drums
The songs are somewhat reminiscent in sound, at least to my ears, of a lot of other singer/songwriter performers. I get echoes of Jackson Browne in places, also other people, Wilco for example and even hints of the Fab Four, but let’s not get too hung up on comparisons because these songs stand up in their own right, being sensitive and accomplished works in a country rock/soft rock style. The first time around, the song that grabbed me the most was Settled for Gold, but once I’d listened to the album a couple of times, the other tracks also opened up and offered me a lot of listening pleasure. I especially enjoyed the contemplative and emotional Halloween Cat and the following track, Park Pranks. I think it might be intentional but the sound and production has something of an 80s feel, which could well be because the music is looking backwards at youth and growing up. You won’t find screaming solos here but the guitars mesh nicely and the rhythm section provide a nice groove for the music to flow over in a smooth and listenable way
This is, I think, pretty radio-friendly music, with lots of chiming guitars and harmonies, nicely-judged and well-crafted songs and a clean sound. There is much to enjoy in this music. It is thoughtful stuff in places, wistful and nostalgic but it manages to avoid mawkishness. It is adult songwriting and the performances are uniformly excellent, making enjoyable listening. OK, there isn’t anything revolutionary or experimental here, but fans of melodic soft rock are going to find much here to enjoy.