"The sound created by the Belles is sort of like what would happen if the members of Wire went to a tent revival meeting, got into the spirit and began speaking in tongues..."
Belles of Skin City certainly don’t chase the hipsters’ flavors of the month (although they’ve certainly gained critical praise around Minneapolis), instead chasing their own angry, poetic muses on You Do The Company Proud.
In the forefront are the lyrics and vocals of frontman David Joe Holiday (aka Dave Matters), whose abrasive, trebly voice is reminiscent of Paper Chase singer John Congleton—almost a wicked whine. His lyrics are—and this is the second time for this word in two paragraphs—poetic, although not beautifully so. Instead they’re cynically so, furiously so. “Ha ha boardroom think tank tantrums / Pencil in a fake orgasm / Oh, big business, come and carry me away!” Holiday spits beneath staccato guitar lines and herky-jerky drumming in “Robots Are People Too.”
The instrumental tracks in that song are maybe the best representation of the spirit of the music of You Do the Company Proud. They are built over non-stock parts, the oblong, clang-clap sounds of drums more essential here than there (there being all around here). Bass and guitars, mostly, but bells and what-have-you’s complete the backgrounds by repeating phrases and lines, never unison, but interweaving between one another in rough-but-serpentine tangles. Structurally, Captain Beefheart may be the best comparison, although it isn’t a perfect one by any means, as BoSC are not nearly so irregular and often more tuneful. And you might find Television here, but only if you turn your head just so.
It is all interesting, this collection of repetitive blocks battling for time and space. And more than interesting, it’s visceral: it’s music that can be felt more strongly when not considered, music that makes more sense as one analyzes it less. That isn’t to say the band doesn’t know what it’s doing at all—far from it. It’s saying they’ve been tremendously successful in recreating the real spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, making a physical-sounding record, in their own style.
Lyrically the songs are almost nasty, sexually-fixated jabs at corporate and consumer culture. “Armed with a gallon of spray-on hair / And an abundant supply of over-the-counter erections / The sad sack mack’s stab at yesteryear recovery / where pride by his ride / and his prize be catastrophe, / a crippling drought,” Holiday sings in “A Case of Rather Unfortunate Stage Presence.” Or “A pox to on the crowd / for giving merit to the catch phrase / you do the company proud,” in “Joni Loves Trotsky.”
Don’t get carried away in the hilarious song titles for which BoSC are becoming semi-famous—while “Patrick Costello: Putting the ‘Art’ Back in Smart-Ass” puts even Kevin Barnes’ titles to shame, there is a lot more here than these headers. These are oddly soulful stabbing songs (and you can put the comma wherever you want without being wrong).
I have both the Ha-Ha Boardroom Think Tank Tantrums EP and You Do The Company Proud LP if you want to hit me up on slsk. For now, have a listen to these...
"Lighten Up, Katherine Lanpher" ***highly recommended***
"Robots Are People Too"
http://www.myspace.c...ellesofskincity ("The Basquiat of Iowa" is also recommended)