Smoke Bellow – Open for Business

On Open for Business, Smoke Bellow prove themselves to be absolute masters of musical hybridization.

Released today on Trouble in Mind Records, Smoke Bellow’s Open for Business is a colorful pop record that cherry picks various tasty elements from a variety of contrasting styles, and melts them together into a totally new and wildly entertaining beast.

On songs like the snappy opener, “Fee Fee,” the transcontinental group employs a clattering loop of polyrhythmic percussion and a snake-like bass groove while soft vocals, minimalist guitar lines and honking trumpets weave tightly around them. The banging-on-trashcans-like drumming style on this track coupled with bursts of roughened trumpets brings to mind late-period Tom Waits, while the rest of the song is grounded firmly in art-pop that’s akin to Cate Le Bon and David Byrne. It’s a fascinating and strangely pleasing combination of musical qualities and sensibilities, to say the least.

Throughout the rest of the record, Peter Animashuan-like guitar work curls up around repetitive Kraftwerk-esque beats while sleek vocal melodies bond to off-kilter synth drones, creating a surreal ambience that one would expect from a Robert Wyatt LP. This dream-like mood is perhaps most evident on the spoken word piece, “Night Light,” which sounds like what would happen if The Heliocentrics tried covering The Velvet Underground’s “The Gift.”

One of the major strengths of this album is its production. Each and every sound that the group recorded stands out in the mix, allowing for its texture and vibrancy to be on full display. This causes every second of the music to catch the ear and pull the listener deeper into the record’s world. This is not an album you can easily ignore in the background. It demands to be heard.

For a truly one of a kind listen, pick up Smoke Bellow’s Open for Business today on a variety of different formats from Trouble in Mind.


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Published by Record Crates United

Keith Hadad, the creator and manager of RCU, has been a contributing writer to Elmore Magazine and and maintains a regular column, “Keith Hadad’s Choice,” in Blicker magazine. His writing has also appeared in the Smithsonian Folkways' Guest Blog and the Optical Sounds Fanzine. Also, please check out the blog's super-active Instagram account, @recordcratesunited for daily blurb-styled music reviews.

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