Beta Radio
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Beta Radio

Wilmington, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Wilmington, North Carolina, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Band Folk Americana




"Beta Radio - Seven Sisters"

Wilmington, North Carolina’s Beta Radio threw their hat into the Americana-Folk ring in early May with their debut album Seven Sisters. Ben Mabry and Brent Holloman (the duo behind Beta Radio) have offered up an album that is instantly familiar and undeniably catchy.

Musically reminiscent at times of Bon Iver’s atmosphere heavy For Emma, Forever Ago or the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon” from their 1969 release Aoxomoxoa, the sonic landscape of Seven Sisters is sparse but far from empty. On tracks like “Khima,” “Borderline” and “Brother, Sister,” the slow scrawl of the banjo melody floats through the song and surrounds you like birdsong, coming at you predictably but surprisingly from several directions at once. Each of the songs on this album stays with you, forming a soundtrack for and changing the shape of the rest of your day.

It’s appropriate that a debut album concern itself with creation and Seven Sisters is no exception. Whether it is the creation of love and a place for that love, as the narrative of the album suggests; or the creation of the universe, as the album’s title and repetition of astronomical and astrological imagery suggests; Beta Radio’s lyrics and music carve out a space in your head and find a way to fit into your own cosmology.

Lyrically, Seven Sisters explores religion, albeit from a couch rather than a pulpit. The religious allusions are subtle and unobtrusive, concerning themselves more with mysticism than proselytization, much like David Eugene Edwards’ 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand.

Line for line, the lyrics are beautiful and surprising. In “A Place for Me” the lines “I wanted not to fight / With my heart but I’ll fight with my fists all night” evoke the heartache of leaving, of lovers’ spats of loss and regret.

The album leaves you with a simple but urgent lyric refrain in “Return to Darden Road”– “Where do you go? / Come back to me / ‘Cause I love you so.”
- DeckFight

"Album Review: Beta Radio"

Some time ago on Beta Radio’s MySpace page I saw where a person commented that the band’s music made her happy. Truthfully, that was probably the best, and easily most necessary review of “Seven Sisters” required. I think that statement is perfect for the simple rationale that it’s precise and true. Sometimes simple is best. “Seven Sisters” is a superb album. It bears a quality all its own, derived from earnest singing and songwriting built upon gentle acoustic guitar, banjo playing and a smattering of other instruments that add to the album’s folksy, gypsy singer-songwriter feel.

If music is comfort food then Beta Radio’s debut is what the philosophy means to extol. “Seven Sisters” envelops you, embracing by way of a country-folk, and occasionally, a church feel. Its wandering-through-the-country texture lends the songs to small town environs and family life, of love and heartache. There are songs that linger via their pleasant rhythms and Mabry’s engaging vocals. His voice is friendly, deftly mirroring people’s emotions. In “Darden Road” Mabry sings “Don’t want to clean my room/Cause I might clean my memories of you” and sounds wholly genuine. He makes those sentiments real, not just as gestations or contrivances of them.

Mabry has a singular voice. He doesn’t merely sing well, his voice is distinctive. As a singer he traverses between cool and calm to temperate and soaring, like Bono trying to be Paul Simon. On the somber “A Place for Me” he begins with a subtle growl and when reaching the chorus stretches out in a pained timbre. The horns at the end make the song gravitate. On “Khima” Mabry’s vocals is a breeze crossing a front porch as Holloman steadily plays the banjo. It recalls the distant and lost quality of U2’s “Mothers of the Disappeared.” Mabry sings “I was wrong, I was wrong” and the song sounds like territory “Amazing Grace” once charted.

Mabry and guitarist Brent Holloman know how to write good songs, not just catchy and memorable ones. “Where Losers Do” and “Either Way” are such obvious choices for radio singles and it doesn’t hurt their music is overtly picturesque. Sincerity and soulfulness will carry them a long way, mirroring the presence of performers like Simon & Garfunkel, Natalie Merchant or James Taylor. “Seven Sisters” illustrate Mabry and Holloman as a great recipe, a combination of singer and musician that will likely produce more outstanding music.

– Brian Tucker - The WA&E

"Beta Radio Duo’s Sound, Writing Has Evolved For Years"

Ben Mabry’s smile takes up his entire face, a face that is often likened to Steve Martin’s.

As the singer for Wilmington band Beta Radio, which is having an album release show at the Soapbox on Friday, it’s easy to view Mabry as the polar opposite of the duo’s other half, Brent Holloman. Holloman is stoic, bearded and wears a tattooed ring in lieu of a wedding band while Mabry is energetic and loquacious, perfectly juxtaposed to Holloman’s fatherly reserve. Sitting together they interact like family, brothers who finish each other’s sentences.

They’ve known each another for years, first meeting at summer camp. Three years later they began to write music together. During high school they played acoustic music when Mabry wasn’t playing in a metal band.

“I’m not really proud of those days because we weren’t very good. Brent and I were watching a videotape of the band and were getting embarrassed.” Mabry said. “So Brent and I hope we don’t look back in 10 years and think this is terrible.”

Mabry is referring to Beta Radio’s full-length debut, “Seven Sisters,” a wonderful mix of country, gospel and folk music. Fans of The Avett Brothers will be interested, but Beta Radio have just as much in common with Simon & Garfunkel, old-time hymnals or the Belgian rock band K’s Choice. “Seven Sisters” is rife with catchy, radio-ready songs: “Either Way,” “Darden Road,” “Where Losers Do.”

Mabry attended Appalachian State, Holloman went to the Savannah School of Design. When Mabry was home they wrote songs, only to discard them. The fractured periods together led to sporadic writing coupled with varied music styles.

“Each time we always found something new because we never wanted to look back at the old stuff,” Holloman said.

Five years ago they started writing songs they refer to as “OK” but last year, after playing music off and on for a decade, they found their sound. Holloman’s sister owns a photography business and he and his wife helped on a wedding shoot in Ireland. While exploring, Holloman bought a banjo that would become a large part of the album’s texture.

“I don’t really play it normal like a banjo,” Holloman added. “I mainly play it like I would play a guitar.”

For two weeks last fall they had access to good recording equipment, which meant making quick decisions and sticking to them. By December they had seven songs, and later, another four at Holloman’s house with borrowed equipment.

“Seven Sisters” is largely folk and acoustic driven and it’s peppered with gospel, string playing and introspective lyrics. The songs sound like they’ve been written by musicians who’ve been making albums for years.

“People say the record sounds nostalgic. Some say it made them feel happy. Some say it’s heartbreaking,” Mabry said. “We just wanted to make a record we were hoping people would listen to.”
- Wilmington Star News


Colony of Bees

Colony of Bees is Beta Radio’s first full length recording in over four years. It marks a subtle departure in style from their celebrated debut Seven Sisters – a record without label support and whose grassroots success was built largely on the back of internet radio stations Pandora and Spotify. The more layered and at times ethereal offerings on Colony Of Bees tread into new territory, but at the same time manage to effortlessly keep one foot firmly rooted in the Americana/folk arena that they have called home for many years.

Seven Sisters

the debut album from Beta Radio, is haunting and heart aching. The songs on Seven Sisters take you to a place where love is essential and simple, the landscapes are familiar and ghostly and the stars hold the promise of your future once you learn how to read them. When you leave the album, the minimalistic arrangements and the sincerity of the lyrics stay with you and call you back for another listen.



Beta Radio’s Americana-folk sound is the result of a decade-long collaboration between Wilmington, North Carolina’s Ben Mabry and Brent Holloman. When the pair met in 1998 they began playing music, first for themselves, then for friends, trying on different genres and searching for one that fit. Over time, Brent experimented with stripping the music back to its essentials, focusing on simple melodies and finding a haunting, minimal sound that felt like home. Concurrently, Ben was refining his lyric sensibility, turning to Nick Drake and Sufjan Stevens for inspiration. What he found when he returned to the page quickly became the lyric base for Beta Radio. Together Ben and Brent polished the lyrics, tightened the music and headed to the studio to record a portion of the album. Wanting to capture the intimate air their songs embody, they purchased a pair of SM57 microphones and finished recording the album in Brent’s living room.

Band Members