The Black Belles – Self-Titled

The Black Belles are the next big band born from Jack White’s Third Man Records. After releasing four singles on the TMR label, the Belles have finally recorded their full-length self-titled debut album. With the help of White’s production, the fierce foursome have found their groove and created a strong album full of ‘60s garage rock-inspired tunes darkly laced with an underlying modern spin.

Creepily clad in matching sexy Salem witch trial wear, the ladies have created an image that is as appealing as their sound. There is an inherent mystery behind each track that draws the listener in to actively participate and interact with the lyrics and music. The strongest track on the album, and one of the best songs of 2011, is the ladies first single, “Honky Tonk Horror.” White’s magic production, especially on lead singer Olivia Jean’s vocals, turns the awkwardly titled single into an instant gem. From a howling to a distant whisper, Jean convinces us that she “has been a bad girl.”

There are a couple of clunkers on the album. A track like “Howl at the Moon” has a playful, Sebadoh-ish guitar riff that doesn’t quite fit in with the gals’ gloomy get up. Ending the album with a fizz instead of a bang, “Hey Velda” sounds, at times, like a generic Rolling Stones’ track. I would’ve loved to have seen it replaced by the band’s B-side track “Dead Shoe” that ends with Jean candidly admitting, “I think I spit all over your mic.”

If one could imagine Elvira having four daughters, The Black Belles would be them. The goth-garage gals have tossed their pointed hats into the musical arena and produced a solid debut. There is a feeling that the witchy-looking women have some fantastic future albums brewing in their cauldron.

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November 3, 2011. Albums.

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