The Bellfuries
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The Bellfuries

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
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I said about ten years ago that Joey Simeone is the Bob Dylan of rockabilly. His voice is possibly the best thing you will hear until the moment St. Peter invites you through the pearly gates. This is just my opinion of course, and after 30 years of running some of the world's most successful rockabilly festivals and seeing thousands of bands what would I know!? Don't take my word for it, stuff some Bellfuries into your ears as soon as possible, you'll write and thank me for the recommendation. - Jerry Chattabox


The Bellfuries - Palmyra (SR)
By Jim Brown and Jillian Sayre • Jul 2nd, 2008 •

The Bellfuries’ new 60’s sound is not news (Austin Sound has previously compared the band to The Zombies), but the band - comprised of Joey Simeone (guitar/vocals), Shecky Seaver (bass), and Bobby Trimble (drums/vocals) - continues to work this sound in a way that is both nostalgic and innovative. While the pop tracks like “Give it, Get it,” “Sung by someone lonely,” and “Cheerleader,” remind us of more innocent, pre-1968 times, the lyrics often hint at something else (”When I said that I liked your band / I just wanted to get in your pants”) and Joey’s sharp vocals distinguish the band’s sound from more general mid-century pop.

This Bocce-themed CD case contains a small oasis that will remind you of simpler times when lawn darts were still legal and beer cans had pull tabs. But if you’re more of an indie rocker than a throwback, Palmyra offers some other flavors as well. While “Into the Arms of my Baby” seems like a fun Beatles mashup, with a bit of “Get Back” and a little of “Back in the U.S.S.R,” other tracks like “The Only Ghost There is Me” have hints of the more modern sound of The Shins or Rocky Votolato. Often the line between 60s pop and indie-rock is not always so stark, as with tracks like “Big Surprise” where the two sounds mix and mingle.

The ancient city of Palmyra, Syria provided those crossing the desert with a stop-off point, a place to duck out of stifling heat and recharge. Given the recent string of ridiculous fucking hot weather in Austin, The Bellfuries’ Palmyra provides a similar service. But beyond offering a desert oasis, Palmyra’s a convenient bridge between contemporary indie-rock and 1960s pop, the modern experience of something old, an experience of nostalgia that can’t help being touched by what is new and different. - Austin Sound


Pulling together roots rock and pop has never been easy, but The Bellfuries do it with smart gusto. The opener "Welcome to the Club" has the right blend of guitar and rockabilly beat with catchy melody sure to please fans of Rockpile and Dave Edmunds. The merseybeat rythyms of "Sung by Someone Lonely" has a bit of Elvis Costello flavor as well as a little early Beatles, with really impressive guitar work. The simplicity and honesty of early rock and roll is the appeal on another standout "Give It Get It" complete with handclaps and flowing vocal harmonies over a great bassline. This melting of genres gives the album instant ipod appeal and the even the Hollies-light "Cheerleader" packs a strong pop punch. Another great song is "There could only be one you for me" with impressive chord and time signature changes that is comparable to Bleu and Mike Viola. Even lead vocalist, Joey Simeone sounds a little like Mike Viola on shuffling jangle of "This Love Ain't So Bad." "Big Surprises" also sounds a bit like Costello, but with more energy and force than the other tunes, and it never gets dull even at over 4 minutes. Other songs don't reach these heights, but they come close. The ballad "The Only Ghost There is Me" is the only misstep here with violins and low organ, sounding like it belongs on a different album, with a tone closer to Gerry and The Pacemakers. "All My New Friends" fairs much better as a mid-tempo tune. But even this doesn't take the shine off a brilliant album. The musicianship here is flawless and "Palmyra" sounds like both a cohesive album and a compilation of hit singles. No filler here and after a few more listens the hooks on these tunes draw you in all over again. If that doesn't deserve a Top Ten nod, I don't know what else does. - Powerpopaholic


Texas Platters
bonus tracks
BY DOUG FREEMAN



The Bellfuries
Palmyra (Moe & Sal)

Trading their rockabilly roots for a power-pop sheen, Joey Simeone and the retooled Bellfuries kick Kinks and Costello behind lilting melodies on their sophomore disc. Simeone's pitching vocal swoons lend "Give It, Get It" and "Death of an Idol" an uneasy edge against the bouncing harmonies, and "The Only Ghost There Is Me" and "All My New Friends" are tender gems.

*** - Austin Chronicle


Discography

Just Plain Lonesome 2001
Palmyra 2008

Photos

Bio

Where might country, soul, and popular song intersect? Follow The Bellfuries, as they thrill capacity crowds in the US, UK , Australia, and all over Europe (performing in 14 countries in June 2013 alone).

The band was formed in 1998 by Joey Simeone (lead vocalist/songwriter) and Josh Williams (upright bass), in Austin, Texas. Although ATX has long been a stronghold for roots music, the band had clearly broken the “rockabilly” mold on arrival. With an original songbook distilling Hank Williams heartbreak and Beatles melody, driven home by Joey’s virtuosic singing and stripped-down instrumental backing, The Bellfuries quickly developed a strong local following.

The release of “Just Plain Lonesome” only served to document what the fans already knew. A handful of cover songs--learned from Webb Pierce, Dion, and Sam Cooke--were obvious nods to where The Bellfuries had come from. What was most intriguing, though, was where they were going. The original material provided an itinerary; shaped, but in no way limited by, these influences. “Just Plain Lonesome” and “I Don’t Wanna Wake Up Tomorrow” may seem instant country classics, but consider a few lines from “You Must Be a Loser:”

“You must be a loser
You must have a defect in your heart
I knew I’d tear it all apart
You better run away while you can, didn’t you know all my foolish ways?
How all my plans disintegrate?
You take those silly blinders off and you might see
That you must be a loser to love a loser like me.”

The uniquely nuanced, self-deprecating humor in songs such as “Loser,” combined with bright, catchy melodies, endeared “Lonesome” to many new listeners. (New sensation JD McPherson, who has referred to the Bellfuries as “one of the best bands that ever was,” went so far as to record “Your Love (All That I’m Missin’)” for his “Signs and Signifiers,” album.)

The Bellfuries were now joined by guitarist Mike Molnar. Mike, at twenty-two, had already gained valuable touring and studio experience as a sideman for the late, great Ronnie Dawson, culminating in a 1999 performance on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien.”

While promoting “Lonesome” The Bellfuries toured constantly, crisscrossing the US many times over the next few years. Despite consistently positive reactions to the music, Joey was determined not to simply re-create his first album for a follow-up release. Further road work was put on hold while Joey briefly relocated to Los Angeles, CA.

Pursuing a fresh approach to their music-making, The Bellfuries recruited drummer Bobby Trimble, alumnus of West Coast roots heroes Big Sandy and the Fly-Rite Boys. Shecky Seaver was brought on board to handle bass duties. There was a change of musical scenery as well; the songs comprising "Palmyra" are even more pop-oriented, with jangly electric guitars prominent in the mix. The debut had trod a fresh path from where Webb Pierce and Sam Cooke left off, and so did "Palmyra." It just happened that The Smiths and REM showed up along the way.)

The great rockabilly road warrior/scholar Deke Dickerson had this to say:

"The Bellfuries are one-of-a-kind. Although there are thousands of power pop bands in the world, and thousands of rockabilly bands too, there has only been one band that successfully merged the two forms into something so damn good. What they do is so original it's like a breath of fresh air after a hard rain."

While appearing at a British festival post- “Palmyra,” the band were chagrined to see fans lining up with brand-new (read: bootlegged) copies of “Lonesome,” which had gone out of print during negotiations with the original label. When The Bellfuries returned to the UK for a sold-out appearance at the Rockabilly Rave festival in 2010, they brought their own, legitimate reissue, and in Joey’s words, “everybody bought the record again. There were lines going to the back of the [ballroom] and looped around, like an amusement park.” A recently issued DVD, featuring another sold-out performance in 2011, perfectly captures the enthusiastic relationship between the band and their European fans.

The Bellfuries maintain a full, worldwide touring schedule--current dates, times and locations are available at www.thebellfuries.com. The latest single “Bad Seed Sown,” is a vinyl 45 and teaser for the new album, scheduled for release in 2013. Raw, loud, and in a rollicking R&B vein, it’s a maddeningly brief snapshot of a band that can do seemingly anything they want to, and is determined to do everything they want to.

Band Members