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The Busy Signals

Actually there's only one Busy Signal, a bedroom pop wizard from Minneapolis by the name of Howard W. Hamilton III. Even though he has a banker's name, Hamilton is a veteran of the indie rock circuit, having formerly served as Babes In Toyland's roadie and spiritual advisor and played in the ill-fated Twin Cities lo-fi band Saucer. After the demise of that latter group, Hamilton traded his old Ford Falcon for an eight-track and a sampler, then retired to his bedroom. And so began his wacky experiments with lo-fi pop quirkiness. Tape loops and synthesized sounds abound, coupled with hilariously weird vocals. It's like hearing Phil Spectorish '60s pop get slipped acid and dropped in a washing machine.

Hamilton has released three Busy Signals efforts on Sugar Free Records. His first was the "Headphone World" split seven-inch with Team Slabco in 1999. His debut LP, Baby's First Beats, followed a year later, further exploring and defining The Busy Signals' humorous 'n' playful beat-driven bedroom style.

For the follow-up, 2001's Pretend Hits, HWH3 (as he is known to friends and associates) recruited some of his likeminded cohorts to help take The Busy Signals' electronics-tinged bedroom pop in the direction of goof-off hip hop and hippie-dippy funk. Sean Tillman (aka Har Mar Superstar and Sean Na Na), Robert Schneider (of The Apples in Stereo), and a variety of other odd characters pop up periodically, sometimes offering some vocals of their own. At times Hamilton sounds almost like a lo-fi Beck on Quaaludes as he sings in honey-glazed tones over thrift store beats, his tongue planted firmly in cheek.

"Hyperrealitycheck" appeared first on Better Looking's Holiday Matinee 2 comp, before reappearing on Pretend Hits. "The Freeway" is also from Pretend Hits.