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
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.
2. Street Corner
4. Sister Disaster
5. Youre Sorry Now
6. Revolution Get Down
7. Mele Ipu Ekahi
8. Used To Be
9. Find Someone To Believe In
10. Youre Sorry Now (Slight Return)
11. Some Confusion City
12. Making Up For Lost Time
13. Poison Arrow
14. Black Is The Color
16. Stone Rain
17. Noise Epic
18. Rude Awakening
19. Voodoo Train
21. Mele Ipu Elua