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(self-released; US: 15 Aug 2006; UK: Available as import)

Back in the ‘60s, pop songs were shorter than they are today.  It was a time when a song would show up, say its piece, and leave without driving said piece into the ground for an extra minute or two of guitar solos, chorus repetitions, or whatnot.  For whatever reason, in this age of diminished attention spans and market-driven programming, pop songs have actually become longer, with the prototypical pop song now lasting three-and-a-half to five(!) minutes.  DC-area band Hotspur takes a cue from those pop songs of an earlier era, its members keeping their power-pop crisp, concise, and never long enough to overstay its welcome.  On their debut album Beta, they sound like they’re having fun, and they toss things in like dance beats, pianos, and the occasional string instrument / synth without batting an eye, all while keeping the requisite ballad (in this case, the lovely “Have You Seen This Girl”) from slowing them down too much.  Other highlights include “Goodbye, Goodbye”, which is darker but no less catchy than anything else on the album, and the incredible, not-even-three-minute “5th of July”, which grabs some seriously ‘80s synth noises and pastes them on to a triumphant, infectious chorus, adding up to Beta‘s strongest track.  This is a debut?  It’s self-assured and confident enough to be a third or fourth album, at least despite its self-effacing title.  Seriously, somebody sign these guys already.


Mike Schiller is a software engineer in Buffalo, NY who enjoys filling the free time he finds with media of any sort -- music, movies, and lately, video games. Stepping into the role of PopMatters Multimedia editor in 2006 after having written music and game reviews for two years previous, he has renewed his passion for gaming to levels not seen since his fondly-remembered college days of ethernet-enabled dorm rooms and all-night Goldeneye marathons. His three children unconditionally approve of their father's most recent set of obsessions.

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