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Bellrays - The Red, White and Black


Review: Jack Foley

THE tracks come thick and fast on The Bellrays latest album, The Red, White and Black, and that's a good thing!

The band have evolved from a jazzy duo, based in California in 1990, to a hard-edged punk rock quartet more akin to the sound coming out of New York at the moment; without really sounding any better for it.

There's no denying the power of lead singer, Lisa Kekaula's mighty vocals, which lend something of an Aretha Franklin/Tina Turner feel to the rock 'n' roll, but whether it really works is something different altogether.

There's not enough going on with the music to really strike at something different; so that although there are 21 tracks to choose from, they quicky blend into one another.

Tracks such as Used To Be, which slow things down a notch, and come over all bluesy, sound great on their own (and just about emerge from the whole), but too many others, from opener, Remember, to the repetitive Sister Disaster, rely a little too heavily on the power of the vocals and the incessant thrash of a guitar to really sound special.

And this is a shame, for there is some great work going on, from the driving guitar-work on Used To Be, which really belongs in the Seventies, or the beguiling piano and acoustic guitar of You're Sorry Now, which is over as soon as it begins.

Likewise, the funky/Motown vibe that reverberates around the guitars of Making Up For Lost Time, which benefits, once more, from taking its time.

It's just that every time you think the album has found its stride, the drums crash and the guitars wail again, as in the aptly named Some Confusion City, which just feels like a band demoing unfinished tracks in some backstreet garage, playing to their hearts content, with no one really listening. Likewise, the headache-inducing Poison Arrow, which doesn't know when to call it a day!

What The Bellrays lack is a maturity found in the tighter work of outfits such as The Strokes, or White Light Motorcade.

They can play, and Kekaula certainly can sing; but sometimes that's simply not enough. The Red, White and Black is fast, furious but, ultimately, forgettable.

 

Track listing:
1. Remember
2. Street Corner
3. Fanfare
4. Sister Disaster
5. You’re Sorry Now
6. Revolution Get Down
7. Mele Ipu Ekahi
8. Used To Be
9. Find Someone To Believe In
10. You’re Sorry Now (Slight Return)
11. Some Confusion City
12. Making Up For Lost Time
13. Poison Arrow
14. Black Is The Color
15. D-Am
16. Stone Rain
17. Noise Epic
18. Rude Awakening
19. Voodoo Train
20. Startime
21. Mele Ipu Elua

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