Week in Pop: The Beta Macks, The Lovemakers, Only, The Vignettes

Sjimon Gompers

The most triumphant return of The Beta Macks; press photo courtesy of the band.

The Beta Macks

The boundless pop possibilities brought to you by The Beta Macks’ La’akea Presley & Lindsay Johns Bennett; photographed by Steve Cross.

Nashville’s Pangs returned last week with their new next single & now Lindsay Johns Bennett, with bassist Sam Rutherford, Will Reiss (percussionist for both Pangs/Nudity), Bill Mitchell & La’akea Presley announce the return of their decade old pop project The Beta Macks. Re-shaped, re-made, resurrected & remodeled—The Beta Macks exude all the indulgent elements that encompass the musical fabrics of the storied southern collective. This is a group that understands which particular melodic couplets create the most effective audio bang for the economy where audio textures are woven like fine, flashy textiles designed for immediate consumption off the pop art runways & showcases.

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“Fall With You” by The Beta Macks entertains the cryptic nature of the group’s own electronic pop aesthetic. Through the art of channeling restrained expressions of indifference & affection that exists on some other atmospheric plane are delivered in haunted sweeps of vapor painted pop that stirs the stars & their corresponding constellations & organization of galaxy orders. “Fall With You” is the feeling of falling and/or floating in the zero gravity zone of space where sensations of the surreal temporarily distract the mind from the lack of breathable oxygen available. This is a song that emulates the state of being trapped between two worlds in the chasms of non-existence. Lindsay introduced the single with the following exclusive preface:

“Fall With You” came together super fast and easy. Bill sent me some lyrics and a rough demo of the music and I immediately got the feel for the song and sent some lyrics and a melody back to him. We’re both big fans of Julee Cruise and felt like this song was of that sentiment. It’s basically a sad song about giving up and being pulled along, but it sounds pretty, which is an interesting juxtaposition.

The instrumental “Beach” delivers moody feels for overcast coast adventures where The Beta Macks bring their synthesizer A-game to the equation. With clusters of tense synths sparking up like a bunch of electric butterflies; keyboard flutters ascend & descend like the motions of oceanic waves (both great & small) that ascend to great, multi-story heights before crashing down upon the doormat expanses of sand. The cinematic scenario of tension met in a shore-side standoff is extenuated with an impressive bouquet of key sequences that spell out movie scenes for the cineplex of the ear. The Beta Macks’ own Lindsay Bennett introduced the evocative instrumental with the following thoughts:

Bill wrote and produced “Beach” which was inspired by the beach and various substances. I tried putting vocals to it but it’s so good as an instrumental. So yeah, our approach to making music has been no-holds-barred, whatever genre, or mood we’re feeling. Which is weird, but really cool and liberating.

On “Paper Lantern”, The Beta Macks tries on their most trick pop outfit yet where the group becomes a mid-90s alternative pop group with a sound that seeks to defy all conventions & odds of being lumped in with the norms. From clever Dandy Warhols-esque organs/guitar ratios; The Beta Macks make cult single favorites from Sneaker Pimps, Luscious Jackson & more sound in full chic as if 2017 was really a double for 1997. “Paper Lantern” could have been your favorite 90s single that you got to hear overplayed on the radio, where the Nashville powerhouse delivers a whole new spin on 90s pop revisionism that presents a single that spins a searing, whirling blade through your nostalgia biases that rips through that compact disc shine. The Beta Macks take the listener on a nefarious joyride on “Paper Lantern” where destinations remain unknown & the song itself becomes something of an amusement dark ride of wonders—unto itself. Lindsay penned the following exclusive prologue to the single:

Paper Lantern also came together pretty seamlessly, I’d had these lyric ideas about addiction and escape kicking around and we just decided it would be fun to do a fast 90s rock song. It’s a cathartic one to play at practice! No click track! Right now we’re scoring the music for a movie our friends made. We’ll see what bubbles up next.

The Beta Macks’ own electrified Lindsay Johns Bennett; press photo courtesy of the artists.

The Beta Macks’ “Never Meant to Last” exhibits the fleeting flights of fashionable fancy that are only intended for the moment & not much beyond that. The ebb & flow cycles of arrivals & departures mesh together in an economically arranged track that utilizes every summer-stricken sound to its most logical & realized level of delivery. From subtle effects that rein in every component to make for an incredibly tightly produced track; Lindsay, Sam, Will, Bill & La’akea make something that is set for FM frequencies to be found & cherished the world over. The Beta Macks balk at the temporal pale with a kind of shrugged acceptance where faded promises (made in the past) subside to the slipping sands of time & feasible realities (that spell out alternately shifted futures).

On “Narcissist”, The Beta Macks illustrate the infatuated excesses of self-obsessed amour & the after-effects observed by others. Through a scheme of cleverly arranged synths & Lindsay’s own head-on expressions of unflinching confrontation; self-absorbed behaviors are given an objective view for what they truly are through paradigms that depict what happens when the central focus rests solely square around the self (and nobody else). “Narcissist” is a plea from the group for all who have issues seeing past themselves to take into consideration the feelings, wishes & circumstances of others that apply empathy against an ornery air of incorrigibility. The track itself basks in an electro-coated glaze of glamor where The Beta Macks dearly remind us the not all rose tinted perceptions can discern between the glow of faux, fool’s & real ore of the earth.

The Beta Macks introduced their new singles with the following insights:

I’ve started making music again with my composer friend Bill Mitchell who just moved back to Nashville. We played in a band called The Beta Macks about 10 years ago, which was the first band I’d played in with Nick from Pangs and Nudity! We’ve been having a lot of fun putting together a fresh batch of songs. We also put an awesome band together with bassist Sam Rutherford, Will Reiss (Pangs/Nudity drummer) and La’akea Presley and played at the Elliston Place Street Fest in Nashville. It was awesome, despite being 100 degrees, especially because we played right before Self and I’ve been a big fan since I was 13!

I usually gravitate towards more imaginative and vague lyrics that allow the listener to paint their own picture, but with our single “Narcissist” that went out the window. It’s very transparent. Everybody knows at least one narcissist. We had a great time writing and playing this song- sometimes you just crave that sugary pop sound. Never Meant to Last is a bit darker and has a beachy vibe. Our focus tends to stay on good sounds and melodies and we really enjoyed creating this one too. I’m really stoked about the artwork for the two singles. Narcissist is a cartoon ghoul drawn by my cousin, Dylan Tupts @countdunula. The zebra girl was done by Carly Jean Andrews @carlyjeanandrews, who I haven’t met IRL but found her Instagram and have been in love with her work too! I’m so glad they were down to represent the songs. We have some more new tunes coming very soon of the dreamy, punk, and funk varieties.

Listen to more from The Beta Macks via Bandcamp.

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