Features | Awards

The Tri-Annual Steve Mason Can't Get Himself Arrested in North America Award

By David M. Goldstein | 13 December 2013

Steve Mason :: Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time

I seem to recall that in the late ’90s and early ’00s, denizens of the United States and Canada very much enjoyed the Beta Band. They opened for Radiohead a bunch of times, had their pop culture moment where John Cusack attempts to sell five copies of The 3 EPs (1998) by blaring “Dry the Rain” in his vinyl store in High Fidelity, and were generally able to sell out mid-sized indie rock venues with ease in most parts of the country upon their untimely dissolution in 2004. It also helped that they were incredibly awesome.

Since then, in addition to his documented battles with depression, Eeyore-voiced frontman Steve Mason has released a steady stream of excellent material under a variety of guises, ranging from his Beta Band-esque King Biscuit Time project, to the ’80s Electro pastiche of Black Affair, and then eventually electing to use his own name for 2010’s excellent Boys Outside record. Fusing his trademark melancholy psych-pop musings with two-minute dub interludes and politicized hip-hop that’s conscious without being cloying, Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time is the single best album the man has been associated with since Hot Shots II (2001). Mason is wholeheartedly embracing his knack for classic-rock single craft again, and per his high standards, the production is immaculate and laden with reverb to the high heavens. Even the two and a half minute dub reggae tribute to Brazilian F-1 racing hero Aryton Senna feels vital.

And wouldn’t ya know, at least on this continent, no one cares! Monkey Minds was reviewed favorably by the handful of expected outlets upon its release, and then relegated, like everything else Steve Mason has released here, to footnote status. He even attempted to tour the States for the first time in several years, only to be waylaid by the proverbial visa issues so common to minor (relatively speaking) British musicians. North America has denied itself of the numerous pleasures of Steve Mason’s solo career for far too long. Monkey Minds in the Devil’s Time is as good a place as any to begin the correction. The man does not release bad music.

► “Fire!”