The Belles “Omerta”

The Belles
Lakeshore Records

Two is the magic number, at least when it comes to break-through musical acts in recent years.

Christopher Tolle (vocals, guitars) and Jake Cardwell (drums, percussion) formed The Belles in 2001, and a little over a year later released the band’s debut, Omerta.

Despite the mafia-related definition of keeping secrecy in the “family,” Tolle explains Omerta to mean a “code of silence,” explained on the title track.

The Belles brand of lo-fi rock makes the album quite endearing, as it is the innocent story of the band’s beginnings. The band formed because Tolle’s songs were not working with his other band, The Comfort Creatures.

According to Tolle, the music was not over-thought, therefore the recording should not be either. The album’s recording was approached as naturally as possible and it shows in the simplicity of the music.

This band also conveys the revival rock that has become so vital in saving music today, yet the influences are unique. Pulling inspiration from the Beach Boys’ Smile and the Beatles’ white album, the Belles create a sweet, soulful sound on Omerta.

The music is simple. Songs start with an instrument playing lightly, not an attack on the eardrums by a wall of sound. Tolle’s vocals have a sweet flavor to them, allowing even the album’s most depressing songs to seem upbeat.

Omerta kicks off with the short and quirky, “So I, Sing,” highlighting Tolle’s vocals. The twang of guitars are peppered throughout the album, but especially on “Little Mexican,” where a country influence really comes into play.

Beginning by whistling a guitar lick, the Belles coyly pull off the Beatles’ “You Can’t Have It All.” It blends well with the album’s ambient, yet kicking sounds.

With the combination of depressing lyrics and sweet vocals, the Belles provide the perfect musical accompaniment to a geek’s car ride home from rejection.

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