Live Picks! with Tony Porreco
Who: Bells and Hunters, Skip House, Turtle Recall
What: Album Release Show, Weddings and Funerals
Where: IOTA Club & Cafe
When: Friday March 29, 9:00 PM
Song You Must Hear Today: “Weddings and Funerals”
I’m generally not one for blues rock or bar bands. I think it’s a tired genre with plodding tempos, whose foundation lies in an unwarranted celebration of life’s disappointments and heartaches. So, if a band is playing this type of music and I’m taking note, they’ve got to be doing something special. Bells and Hunters is such an act.
Just to provide you with some quick context, Bells and Hunters do female-fronted blues rock. If you can think back to the ‘90s, artists like Tracy Chapman or (AWESOME) one-hit wonders 4 Non Blondes are easy touchstones for their sound. Those comparisons might leave you yawning at first read, but trust me, Bells and Hunters are both: (a.) edgier and (b.) more interesting than your average blues-oriented band.
Earlier this month, the group released their second record, Weddings and Funerals. According to guitarist/songwriter Keith Fischer, the album was a laborious undertaking that spanned the course of almost two years, and the effort shows from the get-go. The first cut (also the album’s title track) represents an example of truly adventurous songwriting from start-to-finish, replete with several non-repeating sections and tasteful trumpet interludes. Singer Kelly Ann Beavers packs syllable after syllable into the song’s narrative verses, and even slides into a quizzical drum and voice breakdown where she borrows from “A Tisket A Tasket” (yes, the nursery rhyme).
Stylistically, there’s actually a fair amount of ground covered in the brevity of the album’s eight songs, ranging from blues with classic rock instrumental breaks on “73”, to the down home Americana thump of “Mercury”.
Another stand out track is “Maybe a Fool”, which is a swelling country ballad with an evocative chorus about how it’s probably time for a couple to call it quits. This song especially makes for a good segue for some discussion of the album’s themes: With a couple of exceptions, Weddings & Funerals is an album about two partners’ perceptions about each other during their relationship’s demise. At a time when “the album” is more and more frequently described as a dead art form, I think it’s fascinating that a D.C. band has released an album with recognizable narrative and theme.
Bells and Hunters perform this Friday at IOTA in Clarendon to celebrate the physical release of Weddings and Funerals. They’ll be joined by Skip House (buzz saw blues) and Turtle Recall (country? indie? pop? country indie-pop? Who cares, they came up with what is now my favorite band name of all time.)
You should come: I’ll be there, sobbing happily into my beer. Please, please don’t let me do it alone.