Bullets & Belles
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Bullets & Belles

Portland, OR | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | INDIE

Portland, OR | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Folk Indie




"Best of Up and Coming Bands to Look Out For"

The list of top local up-and-coming bands to look out for in 2012 continues this week with some finger-snappin’ vocal-driven indie pop.
To refresh your memory, here’s what I mean when I say up-and-coming. And you’ll find links at the bottom of this blog for the other bands that I’ve highlighted thus far.
Bullets & Belles is comprised of Erin Haley (KCPW’s Sounds from the Lounge producer), her husband Ryan Cron and Noel Sandberg. The group first started playing together in 2011. They released the Curried Rice EP March 2012.
The threesome switch lead vocals repeatedly throughout the song “Bullets & Bells” — the EP’s best track – to give the bouncy, minimalistic song depth. And when the three voices come together in a scratchy harmony on top of piano and drums, it will transport you to bygone days. “Curried Rice” also shows off the band’s cunning vocal versatility.
”Bullets & Bells” performed on PCTV. The overall aesthetic harkens back to something like Billie Holiday meets doo wop, Bing Crosby minus a swinging horn section and classic pop meets indie, contemporary songwriting. They label themselves “contemporary doo wop” and “whimsical soul.”

Bullets & Belles will play at the Downtown Farmers Market June 23. You can also hear them on KUER’s (90.1) Radio West Thursday, June 21 at 11 a.m.

Twitter: @AustenDiamond - Salt Lake City Weekly

"Best Production of Anything Local I've Ever Heard"

Bullets & Belles=Puppini Sisters+ Zooey Deschenel + Norah Jones

I have to say that this might be the best production of anything local I’ve ever heard, which would stand to reason, since while Bullets & Belles only formed last year, the members are all veteran musicians. This three-song EP is some damn catchy jazz pop, with stunning vocals, thoughtful lyrics and brilliant songwriting. The first song, “Bullets and Bells” feels part doo-wop, part Andrew Sisters, part Smiths. It just has so many layers while remaining catchy. “Count to Zero” has more of a folk/country-ballad feel with Ryan Cron taking over vocal duties from his wife Erin Haley-Cron. The last track, “Curried Rice,” starts with haunting harmonies and the lyric, “take the demons and the curried rice, you can have the city and all the lonely nights,” is so damn interesting. I will definitely be watching for more from these cats.
–James Orme, SLUG Magazine, Salt Lake City - SLUG Magazine


“Local musician Erin Haley and her husband Ryan Cron are constantly involved in music. They helped found local sensations La Farsa four years ago and after putting in some time with the group, they moved on to Bullets & Belles, the latest undertaking where Haley and Cron have decided to dedicate their talents.

Bullets & Belles formed over the summer and while they are still in their infancy as a band, the members of the group on an individual level, have been active in the local and even national scene for quite some time. Describing their sound as sexy, jazzy and poppy all in one, Bullets & Belles promise to give you a seductive performance that can take you to 1940 and back again in the time that it takes to perform one song.”

-Autumn Thatcher - Salt Lake Tribune

"Bullets & Belles Feels The Age of Reckoning"

The sophomore album from the Salt Lake City vocal trio Bullets & Belles, Ready, could be described as doo-wop-ier, folk-ier and tighter. "It's a grown-up album," says band member Noel Sandberg. "We've gone from whistling to kazooing."

The album represents their "Saturn return"—an astrological cycle that represents "this big shift that happens ... when you turn 30 ... Inherently, [because of] our ages, I think it's just a time of reckoning," says band member Erin Haley.

Life has shaken up considerably for the band since the release of their debut album, Be Glad: Haley and husband/bandmate Ryan Cron found out two weeks after that album dropped that Haley was pregnant, and the anticipation of having a new baby drifted into the songwriting—along with the fear of responsibility and the question, "Are we ready?"

"One of the big [ideas] of the album is that nobody does know what they're doing," says Haley. As the band has grown and matured, they have come to terms with the idea that people who always seem ready for all of life's events are, much of the time, putting up a façade—and it's OK not to feel ready. The album serves as a reflection of, as Haley calls it, the "harsh, but beautiful, reality that everybody is winging it."

The title track delves into that fear: "I don't know if I'm ready/ To watch them endure/ The world and its muses/ So destructive and unsure." Haley wrote the song just after the Boston Marathon terrorist attack in 2013, which brought a weight down upon her. She remembers thinking, "How much worse can this be?" The lyrics of "Ready," a mostly acoustic indie-folk tune with a low-key, swinging chorus, reflect the terror and vulnerability Haley felt at the time, bringing a child into a world she couldn't explain. "I don't have the answers to how dark it is. I don't know what's going to happen," says Haley.

Much of the album was written while Haley was pregnant, and she struggled to avoid writing only about that huge life change. That's how "Falling Through Space," a light, bouncy track with a stronger folk pull, came about. The three band members all contributed to writing it, broadening its meaning.

"I want to be honest with my feelings, and my feelings are overpoweringly about having a child, but we came together and said, 'Can't it just be about love?' 'Falling Through Space' is about the fear of embracing love. It's the one song that I think covers both of those spectrums," says Haley.

The group decided to have Sandberg sing "Falling Through Space," because the narrative differs from the theme of preparing for parenthood that was such a focus for Haley and Cron. "The song is about love, but I don't necessarily think that it speaks only to love," Sandberg says. "I interpret it as the act of taking a risk or leaving your comfort zone without necessarily knowing what the outcome will be, and how potentially terrifying that can be, but also liberating and rewarding."

All of the songs are in some way self-referential. "Someday You'll Understand"—which began as a track to fill the album's need for a "dance-y" song—is spare during the verses, with light drumming and a heavier walking-bass groove under Haley's jazzy vocals, until the chorus when the other two join in on '50s-era harmonious doo-wops. Haley wrote this song about the struggle to learn what it's like being treated unequally ("I thought we were the same/ Until I carried/ A child in my belly/ Reality has set in/ Now they see me as a mother/ And he still gets to be him"). Cron, a "die-hard feminist," doesn't subscribe to traditional gender roles, and while Haley gets peppered with questions and advice about raising their 2-year-old—or is asked where the baby is—such questions are never directed at him. "Having [our baby] really opened my eyes to the inequality that thrives in society still," says Haley.

There is no question that both Haley and Cron plan to keep the band a priority, even as they raise their daughter. "We don't have a choice. We can't not do it. I just have to, to function. I'll never not do it," says Haley.

They are used to splitting responsibilities, anyway. When Bullets & Belles play live, they have the percussion and drum-kit roles divided: Sandberg on snare, Cron on kick, and Haley on keys. (For their upcoming album-release party, hosted by The State Room, they hired a drummer with a full kit). All three contribute vocals, rotating on lead, while Cron plays guitar. Each has his or her vocal strengths. Sandberg represents the country elements; Haley, doo-wop; Cron, blues.

The blend keeps the band from being easily pigeon-holed—a fate they have had the freedom to avoid as they produced the album on their own label, HeyHay Productions. Two of the tracks—"I Never Loved You" and "Big Magic Eraser"—were recorded live, reminiscent of mid-'50s operating procedure before the prevalence of multi-tracking, because it captures the "old-school sound," says Sandberg.

Saturday's concert kicks off a national tour, but there's another major life event awaiting them at the end of the summer: a planned relocation to Portland, Ore. Haley and Cron are moving because of Cron's new job; Sandberg is moving because that's where the band is going.

It's another big change, but as Sandberg says, "That moment when you decide to take a risk and do something scary, that's relatable to everybody." - Salt Lake City Weekly

"Bullets & Belles Are "Ready" with New Album"

Self-proclaimed "neo doo-wop folk" band Bullets & Belles is gearing up for the release of its sophomore album, "Ready." The Utah-based trio began making music together in 2011, after singer-songwriter Erin Haley overheard Noel Sandberg (snare drums and vocals) singing aloud to herself when the two worked together at radio station KCPW. Haley asked Sandberg to come to a jam session including her husband, singer-songwriter-guitarist Ryan Cron, and the rest was history.

In the four years that they have been making catchy, sweetly harmonized folk music, they have grown their presence in the Salt Lake music scene and have built an incredibly supportive — and large — fan base. After touring heavily around Utah (including being the only local band to play at the ASCAP Music Café during the Sundance Film Festival) and playing gigs in neighboring states, Bullets & Belles took time to write a new album.


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"Ready" comes on the heels of the birth of Haley and Cron's first child. The album is an intimate look into their lives and the way in which they have changed since welcoming a little girl into the world. It includes songs that the band describe as "post-feminist," addressing subjects such as postpartum depression, sexism and figuring out how to be a parent without losing who you are.

Bullets & Belles play a record-release show at the State Room on Saturday. Haley and Cron, as well as Zach Downes, who plays bass on the album and sometimes stands in as the fourth member of the band, took time to talk to The Tribune about what it means to be Bullets & Belles, the new album and what's to come.

On that neo doo-wop sound and "Ready"

Haley: We kind of made up a genre: neo doo-wop folk. It's "neo" because it is contemporary and of the times, and it's folk music because the definition of folk music is from the people about the people. We have obvious doo-wop influences and so it's kind of an amalgamation of all those things. The musical themes on this new album are what we have done in the past but deeper and better. It's more soulful, more folky and more doo-woppy than anything else we have ever done. We have always been pretty brutally honest, but the themes in it now are even more raw and personal as far as the lyrics and the content.

The Bullets & Belles fan base

Downes: They're rabid!

Cron: You have a wide variety of different audiences. You have your Provo scene where it's mostly younger kids that vary in age listening to locally produced music. Then you have your mountain resort scene where you have maybe an older audience that is into blues, bluegrass and folk. It seems like people are exposed to a pretty wide array of different genres in the local music scene. The fans are really loyal and we find that people are often seeking us out, which is really great. The fans are very supportive.

Most memorable Bullets & Belles experience

Haley: We were the first local band to sell out the State Room in the history of the venue. We were in the green room and the guy came out and said, "We're sold out." It was an hour before the first act was even supposed to come on. We stood behind the curtain onstage and it was clear that there were hundreds of people out there. That moment when we were standing backstage at the State Room was a huge moment for me. We all took a deep breath and looked at each other like this is totally happening right now.

On their goals

Haley: Our goal with this album is to take ourselves to a more national level. Utah has been so good to us and now we feel like the natural direction is to do a lot more.

Making music on a grassroots level

Haley: It's simultaneously liberating and terrifying. We are so close to it that it's really deeply personal songs about my life and my feelings. It's about what I have gone through and what I learned. I believe firmly that in order to create good work and good art you have to be brutally honest. On the other side, the business side, I have to sell that art. Because it's honest and I am so passionate about it, I feel like it's easy to sell. It's also scary because that rejection is on such a personal level. We are risking a lot more personally. It's also really liberating because no one is telling us what we can write about. Because we manage ourselves, we are able to create our own schedules and approach the venues we want to play. Nobody is telling us what we can and can't do. That's kind of worth the fear it creates.

Advice to aspiring local musicians

Cron: I would say don't be afraid. Don't feel like you have to sound a certain way to reach a wide audience, because what we've learned as we go through our music careers is to be more and more honest and rely on our own intuition to guide our sound and be true to ourselves. There are times when you might not hit a mark that you were hoping to hit, but it's important to not get discouraged and follow your passion. Don't let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way or sound a certain way. - Salt Lake Tribune


The Curried Rice EP (2012)

Be Glad (2013)

READY (2015)



Bullets & Belles is a retro vocal fueled 1930's influenced Neo Doo Wop Folk group, firing and ringing through out the West. Based out of Portland OR, Erin Haley and her husband Ryan Cron founded the group with Noel Sandberg in the fall of 2011.Inspired by classic pop standards from artists like The Andrews Sisters, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Dion & The Belmonts, Amy Winehouse, Elvis Costello, Arcade Fire, and David Bowie, Haley and Cron are dual singer songwriters that bring different sides of one spectrum together to create something new and yet familiar. Cron plays bass drum while he croons and wails on the guitar. Sandberg rocks the snare while taking turns leading the group and providing "shoo-doo-ahs" with Haley, who also takes turns on lead while holding the rhythm section. This group dubs themselves as “Neo Doo Wop Folk”. Their intrinsic vocal harmonies and Les-Paul like guitar riffs will swell your heart and tap your toes. The band often features an upright bassist to help everybody get a little more groovy. 

Band Members