I picked up Hot Shots II shortly after I got ahold of the Beta Band's new album Heroes to Zeros, even though I was already familiar with several of the tracks. As the follow-up up to their much-maligned (even by the band itself) first album, Hot Shots II was generally regarded as a more polished and deliberate effort than its predecessor. While the record is certainly better than most of the trash out there today, I would say that it suffers from two weaknesses in the end. The first is its uneven quality; Squares is perhaps my favorite Beta Band song, but Eclipse is either a satire I don't get or simply a silly song with bad lyrics. The final track, a cover of One is the Loneliest Number, also sounds pretty out of place and probably should have been left off the album entirely. Another potential weakness is the fact that the album seems to find its sonic range early on and sticks with it to the end. Upon first listen, many of the songs sound fairly similar to each other. After a couple more listens you begin to appreciate the depth and subtlety of the music, but the fact remains that most of the tracks are assembled from the same combination of relaxed vocals, looped melodies, and spacy electronic effects. Those looking for more spontaneity and variety may want to check out the Three EPs or Heroes to Zeros first. If you're in the mood for some laid-back music with a touch of electronic psychedelia, though, Hot Shots II is a sure bet.