Album Review: The Belle Comedians - Without a Sound EP

Review by Dan Nightingale

The Belle Comedians have an all over the place sound; their Facebook page describes them as having “a hybrid sound encapsulating alt-country, folk and indie rock tendencies” which are certainly present on this EP. The album sounds great in terms of instrumentation – lots of bopping raw P-bass sound, slinky overdriven guitars, and predominant piano sound. Much of the songwriting is based around a singer/songwriter style paradigm, of which, as most people know, I am not a fan at all. Vocal music has very little meaning for me, and I often have a hard time connecting to bands that put a huge amount of energy and soul in their vocals, as is this case here.

Songs like “Stop to Rust” center around a highly emotional vocal, with the band moving in and out and providing flourishes and atmosphere. Most people will have no problem connecting with this presentation and I could see the Belle Comedians as excellent candidates for the ECMAs or even the Junos – they have that modern, young, eastern coast sound. There's a touch of folksy, home down feeling in the vocals and the rhythm section, but you can hear a post 90's sound in the guitar melodies and song structure.

“Long Drive Home” opens with some nice pedal steel guitar licks, and there's a great dynamic with the guitar leading the band up and down at the top of the song. The chorus is catchy and the nice dynamics continue throughout the song. The bass and drums show off a great connection, always in sync, and the bass winds the song down with a nice flourish.

The title track, “Without a Sound,” leads off with more great suspenseful guitar; the cliché piano sweep is a little off putting but the track redeems itself quickly and great atmospheric background vocals just ride the track for a while while the instruments play around with rhythms a little bit. It's definitely good drinking music for your local bar or pub, and you could get up and dance with your mom, if she was out drinking with you for some reason. The outro seems custom made for just the purpose (dancing, not necessarily with your mom) and it's at this point that I can really picture the band getting a crowd up and moving at a live show.

“Loaded Bones” concludes the EP proper with a muffled sound that again calls to mind a lot of modern indie-alt-country but with a weirdo twist. It's a little different from the rest of the EP, with fuzzy bass tones and different guitar sounds and styles that are a nice change. This version of the EP also includes two live songs, the first of which, “The Weight you Hold,” only appears in live form and is a nice taste of the bands live show, but is a little slow and ballady compared to some of the more upbeat cuts on the album.

The live recordings also include the live rendition of “Loaded Bones,” which is a very interesting tool to have, to compare the live and recording versions of the song. You can certainly hear the energy the band has for the live show, but the song itself is pretty much spot on with the record, with the lower quality recording compensated for by the grungy live rock and roll energy heard in the drums and vocals. It's a good strategy for an emerging band, as it shows that the band is capable of delivering the goods at their live show and aren't just a studio concoction.

The Belle Comedians don't exactly fall in my tastes, but if you like local beers, plaid sweaters, ironic moose heads, or bearded gentlemen with acoustic guitars, you may just like the Belle Comedians, so keep your ears open for the proper Halifax CD release show in the near future or check out the band's Bandcamp for a taste of the record.


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