staff picks
The Lone Bellow

Dear Music Appreciators,

Just when I was starting to wonder if I would ever find another band to get excited about, I found The Lone Bellow.

This is simply a great record from a passionate, up-and-coming group that many, many music fans will feel lucky to discover this year.

Even with more than eleven months to go, I feel lucky to have discovered what I believe will continue to be one of my favorite musical moments of the year - the intense dynamic shift at the 3:39 mark on the gorgeous track "Tree to Grow." Listen loud on your best headphones please.

You'll find this harmony and acoustic-infused full length debut album is a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll, but it's also a little bit folk, pop, and singer-songwriter, with both an independent streak and just the right amount of popular appeal - for fans of earnest American music, this porridge should taste not too hot and not too cold, but just right.

The Lone Bellow do sound a little like a lot of bands that are popular now, but there's a reason for that. It's because they are approaching their listeners from a place of authenticity, where systems of genre and classification matter less, a place where country meets city, old meets new, and independent artistic effort meets widespread popular appeal. There is a certain portion of pop culture that continues to embrace that whole old timey as new timey approach, and if it means that bands like The Lone Bellow find success, then yay for pop culture.

The Internet is a wonderful place for discovering great music. I found these guys on NPR, and then followed a trail from Amazon to the band's website to YouTube, where a trio of videos convinced me to buy their album. As of this writing you can type TheLoneBellowVevo into Google or YouTube and find three beautifully shot black and white videos to enjoy.

But notice the sweat on front man Zach Williams's forehead just past the three minute mark in the video for "You Never Need Nobody." It's an all-too-human moment that is maybe not so common in artsy black and white photography. Perhaps it's just that he is sitting right in front of a crackling fireplace, but I'd like to think it's honest sweat for an honest record, delivered with the kind of care and feeling that will keep honest music fans listening for years to come.

Sincerely,

Constant Listener (aka Andrew Lee)

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