Saddle Creek | Jake Bellows | Reviews


Dive into Jake Bellows’ New Ocean

Author: Paul Gleason
08/06/2013 | Caught in the Carousel | | Album Review
Accompanied only by sparse guitar strumming, Jake Bellows &emdash; the Neva Dinova frontman &emdash; opens his first solo album New Ocean with the title track, the lyrics of which contain the mythical resonance of baptismal imagery. Bellows expresses his longing to be submerged, reborn in water &emdash; sort of like the residents of Dylan’s “Desolation Row” and the protagonist of Eliot’s The Waste Land.

But, unlike the characters in the Dylan and Eliot masterpieces, Bellows actually experiences salvation in New Ocean. This eclectic and energetic collection of tunes makes you feel that Bellows has triumphantly emerged from a dark place and &emdash; best of all &emdash; that he’s in love with rock and roll and wants you to be too. He sounds as excited as a toddler on Christmas morning, the kind of kid who just can’t wait to show you all the cool new toys he’s just unwrapped under the tree.

“All Right Now” is a catchy, country-tinged rocker, with a terrific vocal melody and some kick-ass lead guitar that would make Neil Young himself jealous. And more astounding guitar soloing closes out “Should You Ever Change Your Mind.”

Joy is the name of the game here, as it is on the other upbeat numbers, which Bellows pulls off in a similar vein. “Running from Your Love” has a terrific tune that recalls Dinosaur Jr., but the guitar arpeggios are nifty, infectious, and totally Bellows’ own. And album-closer “Frequency” chugs along with a snaky vocal line in the verses and neat, new wave instrumental breaks.

But Bellows is the kind of artist who isn’t satisfied in operating in one mode. Remember that the name of the game here is “eclectic.” “Spontaneous” could be another one.

“You and Me,” “Drinking with Dad,” and “Help” take us back to 1950s’ balladry. On the former, think Roy Orbison &emdash; not only guitar-wise but also, amazingly, vocal-wise. And how about a little cool doo-wop? Well, Bellows delivers on “Drinking with Dad,” complete with an unexpected and thrilling guitar solo and some great piano runs. And “Help” just delivers. If David Lynch ever decides to make a movie again like Blue Velvet, he should call up Bellows.

Bellows also has the ability to sound ominous and imposing. Just listen to the vocal melody and the guitar riffing on “Two Weeks.” The 50s’ retro vibe is still there, but this is a more disconcerting song that the tunes I mentioned in graph five &emdash; perhaps due to the fact that the guitar parts are more intertwined and less naked. Layering is key here. Come to think of it, maybe Lynch would appreciate this one more.

My guess is that the beat on “I Know You” derives from bossa nova. I know for sure, however, that this Bellows tune wouldn’t sound out of place in a cocktail lounge &emdash; the same one that The Beatles played when they told us, “You know my name / Look up the number.” But this isn’t a joke song; its smooth organ solo makes you aware of that.

You want solo acoustic stuff? Bellows delivers this as well &emdash; and fantastically. “I Can’t Wait” has an unforgettable vocal melody and some great female backing vocals, both supported by some simple chords. This song stands out because it sounds like Bellows came up with it and recorded it all in one sitting. It’s that spontaneous and that rock and roll, even though you’re in the intimate presence of a guy, a gal, and an acoustic.

As previously stated, Bellows sounds reborn on New Ocean. The album represents everything we love about rock and roll. It’s not only spontaneous and joyful but chock full of memorable melodies and rockin’ guitars.

Bellows’ New Ocean is waiting for you. Dive right in.


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New Ocean

New Ocean

LP / CD / MP3