The Red, White and Black (Alternative Tentacles)
by Grady Gadbow
The gritty determination and savvy swagger of these veteran road-dogs is evident in every second of this latest release. The fuzzed-out guitar blast and rowdy rhythm stomp are in full effect, and Lisa Kekaula’s mighty voice is the rock and roll truth. There seem to be more noisy freak-out breakdown parts in these songs than I remember from the earlier albums, and I think it works really well. The revolution will not be formatted into three-minute radio units for efficient consumption. For sure, it takes more than counting to four to launch the whole world into chaos and bring it back again as only The Bellrays can.
What crass pop music analogy can describe this sound without mentioning MC5? Maybe something to do with Sly And The Family Stone sharing a club gig with the Ramones and borrowing their equipment, but that kind of talk doesn’t do justice to the originality and songwriting talent of this band.
Like Kekaula’s voice itself, the band has an incredible range. The trashy crash of rock riffs seems extra violent breaking through the smooth groove that came just before, and from every explosive mess of feedback and madness emerges some new clear simple melody or chant. These songs tell a whole city of stories with a common theme.