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The Beltholes: Probably Stuck Gum under Your Desk in High School

Posted by April 22nd, 2008 No Comments »

The Beltholes – For Whom the Beltholes
Burn Burn Burn
Records (2007)
By Red Lehman  

I had no idea how to start this review. I considered an analogy to being “on the last belt hole” after eating too much turkey or mentioning that the album has a sample of “Stayin’ Alive,” mentions Eddie and the Cruisers and ends with the word “cocaine” and a cat’s meow. None of these sounded opener-worthy.

Thankfully, when the band took the stage during a recent Tractor Tavern appearance, guitarist Kurt Bloch summed it up nicely: “If the last song wasn’t your thing, then your song is coming up next.”

This rings true on For Whom the Beltholes, a music channel-surfing ode to everything good that pop music has offered from 1961 to present.

Sure you can make comparisons to about twenty or thirty artists that they have borrowed from, but they owe as much to them as a chameleon does to its surroundings. The ‘Holes tackle each genre with delicious precision and endless sarcastic humor.

For Whom the Beltholes! is a sonically complex album where tracks blend into one another with
sequencing reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Many bands have attempted such cohesion, but take a listen to effects-laden 60’s sounding gems “Once in Awhile” and “The Opening Band” and take note on how it’s done correctly.

Pulling off an album with tracks as varied as the countrified “Lady in the Box,” with its clever, self deprecating lyrics (“I had 27 dollars and I put it in your hand/Then I said something stupid and you didn’t give a shit”); and the punch-a-hole-in-the-wall rocker “Minus On The Wedding” with likewise irresistible, hooky lyrics; and “Evil Baby,” which could easily stunt double for any track on GnR’s Appetite for Destruction, is no small feat.

Such carefully planned story-telling is like dismantling a bomb with five different defusing wires. Choose poorly and the entire city block is destroyed. Luckily for the ‘Holes, they pull a MacGyver and correctly cut the green wire. To put it simply, there isn’t a bad track on the  album.

For Whom… is filled to the brim with rocking piano, eyebrow searing guitar solos, foot pounding rhythms and songs that stick instantly.

Take anxious pop rocker “Rockin’ Retro Losers,” (with which I sonically pulverized my co-workers with for two weeks straight) or the honky-tonkin’, beer-soaked “Bored With The Lord.”

Sharing lead vocal duties, Kwab Copeland and Fred Speakman create an album full of well-crafted harmonies. When Anthony Clementi fills in the low end with his superb bass style, something magical is created. Their sound rocks. Their music rules. They have probably stuck gum under your desk and made obscene phone calls from your Mom’s house. They probably worship the devil. They probably own a PeeChee with Van Halen written on it.

And they’ve released a “must-listen” debut album. – (9/10)

The Beltholes play the Red Bicycle (Formerly Bishops) on Vashon Island on Saturday, April 26.


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