The Bell Beat

Posted on January 26, 2011


The Bell Beat’s debut The Carrot Chase (released as Sh! the Octopus), largely conceived by vocalist/guitarist Randy Bishop and hurriedly home-recorded into an iBook, could heartily be considered a modern folk record. Its followup Our Manderley presents the efforts of years of growing collaboration, and comfortably shifts from breathy and modest ballads, to jaunting and shuffling pop staples, to melancholic reveries. “Lyrically and musically, it’s much more fitting,” says keyboardist/vocalist Marina Trejo. “It just took time to find it.”

“I think we’re a lot more sure on what direction we’re going,” claims Bishop, “and I think the song quality is better. Not only because of the fact that everybody’s contributing equally but also we’re a lot more comfortable critiquing.”

“This album’s definitely a lot more mature than the previous,” bassist Chris Sesta attests. “It took so long to actually release the second album… because we were constantly picking at songs.”

“And we took our time, obviously,” says Joel Pearson (drums). “A lot of songs that we wrote, somebody would hate it and we’d end up redoing the whole thing.”

The key to their revamped sound was reimagination—not being afraid of experimenting with an entirely new approach. “It’s already taken us this many years. Who the hell cares?” Bishop remarks. “Let’s just do it again. Scrap it and start over.”

And time and calculation prove to succeed for the Beat (with Andy Stachowiak on guitar), who unveil their sophomore release with professional sensibilities. A beautifully shot video for “Call Me the Fool” starring an alluring young muse in a variety of vintage dress precludes the release of Our Manderley; ongoing DIY multimedia shows accompany the band’s performances, allowing the audience (or anyone else) to submit their own photos, videos and tweets from their phones in the crowd (or anywhere else) directly onto an onstage projector screen during one of their “Sh! Mob” events.

The first 25 LPs (including digital download) purchased at the show come with a silk-screened poster and a 12 oz. bottle of home-brewed, Bell Beat brand ‘Our Manderale.’ “There are so many bands out there. You have to do something… to somehow diversify,” says Bishop. “Something kind of fun.”

The Bell Beat Our Manderley LP release party w/ The Cold Wave and Big Mess • Saturday 01/29 • The Berkley Front •3087 12 Mile Rd., Berkley •$5 • 9pm • 21+ •

01.26.11 / Real Detroit Weekly

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