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Alternative & Indie - Released March 18, 2013 | Double Six Records

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Steve Mason is a man who spends much time thinking about the world around him and the effect it has on himself and society at large. Perhaps he is welcoming us into a corner of his mind as Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time -- his third album under his own name -- begins. Seagulls are heard circling above as a boat rocks gently in the waves, the sails feeling the strain of the incoming winds, while a reading from Canto XVII, a section of Dante's Inferno, paints a vivid picture of a world full of despair ("I looked at many thus scorched by the fiery floor, and though I scanned their faces with the utmost heed, there was no one there I recognized"). "Lie Awake" then creeps in seamlessly, a relaxing, hypnotic blend of bass and drums replacing the sound of the ocean with its musical equivalent. Dante's words have set a scene -- albeit metaphorically -- that allows Mason to start by questioning human nature and the importance of the care of people in one’s life. It’s a captivating opening to 20 sprawling, well-polished tracks recorded in London with Dan Carey and in Mason's studio in Fife, Scotland, where 11 linking pieces were self-produced. The first piece, "Flyover '98," flips the mood, harking back to Mason's more abstract Beta Band days. A busker frantically plays a wonderfully jovial tune on an accordion, until a motorbike engine drowns it out, leading us to the sweet acoustic guitar bounce of "A Lot of Love," one of his most gorgeously tender compositions. Where 2010's Boys Outside provided some of Mason's more concise, personally dark songwriting with a crisp, accessible backdrop, Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time wastes no time in offering a more universal, yet no less personal experience. Steve Mason is realizing his musical vision confidently, typified by the jump between the rather moving sampling of Brazilian commentary from a glorious Ayrton Senna lap, complete with soaring engines ("The Last of the Heroes"), to the pained yet undoubtedly uplifting, piano-led gospel of "Lonely." Meanwhile, "Seen It All Before" tackles depression, urging us to "Pick her all the flowers/Don’t get down among the hours/Start another day/You never know when she might look your way." Mason's lyrics are delivered brilliantly, their dream-like quality drifting around an album that comfortably takes in a host of genres, including dance ("Towers of Power") and hip-hop ("More Money, More Fire"). The latter features London MC Mystro, who provides a forthright attack on police and government actions surrounding the capital's 2011 riots. "Fight Them Back," one of many highlights, then pushes Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time's politically motivated final third to the hilt, a fierce battle cry ("Get up/Fight them back/A fist, a boot and a baseball bat") swarmed by a stupendous bassline and sublime string section. Closer "Come to Me" eventually brings us full circle, peeling away from the protests for one final, optimistic reminder of the power of companionship during man's darkest hours. © Daniel Clancy /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 18, 2019 | Double Six Records

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Following 2016's excellent Meet the Humans, former Beta Band mastermind Steve Mason takes a more organic and collaborative approach on his fourth solo album, About the Light. While his later catalog has increasingly revealed his acumen as a more straightforward pop songwriter, the Fife native's reputation as a wily studio maverick who builds glorious tracks out of odd bits and bobs has stuck with him since his early days. Having proven many times over that his signature approach yields fruit, Mason decided to take a leap into the unknown, employing his live band to write, rehearse, and record together as a team. Produced by Stephen Street (Morrissey, Blur, the Cranberries), About the Light combines the strong melodicism and thoughtful songwriting of its predecessor with the cumulative energy and spontaneity of group effort, making for a distinctive and deeply engaging entry in Mason's canon. Added to the expected synth, piano, and guitar elements are mighty brass sections and female backing vocals, lending a soulful touch to the ten songs which range in tone from muscular and funky to dreamy and mysterious. Lush opener "America Is Your Boyfriend" is an obvious highlight with its infectious percussion track and massive chorus. Likewise, "Stars Around My Heart" hits a perfect blend of catchy new wave rhythms and rich soul with Mason's unique voice emitting its smooth airy power. The jangly "No Clue" and the eerie "Fox on the Rooftop" also hit their marks, adding diversity within the album's streamlined parameters. Well-conceived, vibrant, and executed with attitude and aplomb, About the Light is a career standout for Mason. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2019 | Double Six Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 26, 2016 | Double Six Records

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After the intensity and sheer breadth of 2013's politically charged Monkey Minds in the Devil's Time, Steve Mason returns with his most cohesive and fully realized solo effort yet. In a deliberate step away from the thematic sweep of his first two solo releases, the former Beta Band and King Biscuit Time maestro uncorks a set of pop songs that stand proudly as independent pieces, yet make for an even greater whole. Produced by Elbow's Craig Potter, Meet the Humans manages to distill Mason's lush melancholia and maverick pop acumen into 11 strong tracks that refer to his two decades of recording while delivering something new. The album opens with the warm embrace of "Water Bored," an inspired bit of polyrhythmic, piano-led melodicism that introduces a more hopeful and resolved artist than on his prior solo output. Echoes of the Beta Band's nonconformist post-Brit-pop can be heard in the beats and tones of "Alive!," which revives Mason's relationship with the melodica, and "Words in My Head," the album's darkly epic closer. A live band feeling ignites the horn-laden "Another Day," and the buoyant Kristina Train-aided "To a Door" confronts death with a heady confidence that makes it feel like the centerpiece of the whole collection. Mason's hushed voice is in fine form throughout and Potter's production style draws from his own band's romantic landscapes, complementing the material well. The impeccably crafted tension and relief on "Planet Sizes" are classic Steve Mason as he builds the pounding, minor-key verses into a beautifully glimmering chorus, cleverly toying with the listener's emotions. Fans of any of Mason's earlier projects will find something to love on what is easily the gifted popsmith's best solo effort to date. © Timothy Monger /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released May 3, 2010 | Double Six Records

From the first few seconds of Steve Mason's first full-length under his own name (following one as King Biscuit Time and one as Black Affair), the results could be a Beta Band reunion in full force, with all the crushing beats and junk-shop audio detritus to boot. But it soon becomes clear that Mason's production partner, Richard X, is having a subtle influence, one that pushes Boys Outside into adult alternative territory. While that may be worrisome for Mason's long-time fans, it bodes well for those who have long wondered whether his voice would always remain one of the best-kept secrets in the alternative/indie world. Compared to Beta Band material, the songs here are given a sharper touch but also a softer focus, and Mason's vocals (always a highlight of the records he appeared on) are given the foreground. His vocals still evoke some sort of Scottish high lonesome sound, although his range hasn't expanded much in a dozen years of music-making. (Considering his dearth of material over the past eight years, most listeners will be thankful for this.) His lyrical themes remain bewildered and self-indicting. It's easy to get the feeling that the cover, which is completely black, is an act of fatalistic self-resignation; when he sings "The river runs baby, and it calls for me," the unavoidable impression is that he'll soon be floating along in it, face down. Mason and Richard X do an excellent job of sanding off the rough edges of Mason's past Beta Band material, leaving listeners with more melodic and harmonic treats to enrich their discovery of his many lyrical delicacies. Mason's career has been one of constant starts and stops and side-project misdirections (for his fans, at least), so the straightforwardly eccentric Boys Outside is clearly a record to treasure. © John Bush /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released July 25, 2011 | Double Six Records

From the first few seconds of Steve Mason's first full-length under his own name (following one as King Biscuit Time and one as Black Affair), the results could be a Beta Band reunion in full force, with all the crushing beats and junk-shop audio detritus to boot. But it soon becomes clear that Mason's production partner, Richard X, is having a subtle influence, one that pushes Boys Outside into adult alternative territory. While that may be worrisome for Mason's long-time fans, it bodes well for those who have long wondered whether his voice would always remain one of the best-kept secrets in the alternative/indie world. Compared to Beta Band material, the songs here are given a sharper touch but also a softer focus, and Mason's vocals (always a highlight of the records he appeared on) are given the foreground. His vocals still evoke some sort of Scottish high lonesome sound, although his range hasn't expanded much in a dozen years of music-making. (Considering his dearth of material over the past eight years, most listeners will be thankful for this.) His lyrical themes remain bewildered and self-indicting. It's easy to get the feeling that the cover, which is completely black, is an act of fatalistic self-resignation; when he sings "The river runs baby, and it calls for me," the unavoidable impression is that he'll soon be floating along in it, face down. Mason and Richard X do an excellent job of sanding off the rough edges of Mason's past Beta Band material, leaving listeners with more melodic and harmonic treats to enrich their discovery of his many lyrical delicacies. Mason's career has been one of constant starts and stops and side-project misdirections (for his fans, at least), so the straightforwardly eccentric Boys Outside is clearly a record to treasure. © John Bush /TiVo
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Pop - Released August 1, 2019 | Steve Mason

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Pop/Rock - Released November 15, 2010 | Double Six Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 26, 2018 | Double Six Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 23, 2009 | Black Melody Limited

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 12, 2018 | Double Six Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 4, 2019 | Double Six Records

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Electronic - Released November 23, 2009 | Black Melody Limited

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Pop/Rock - Released March 19, 2010 | Double Six Records

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Pop/Rock - Released July 4, 2011 | Double Six Records

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Pop/Rock - Released May 2, 2011 | Double Six Records

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Pop/Rock - Released May 2, 2011 | Double Six Records

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Pop/Rock - Released August 15, 2010 | Double Six Records

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Pop/Rock - Released April 19, 2010 | Double Six Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 6, 2016 | Double Six Records

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