Oakland’s Bells Atlas, whom I’ve had the pleasure of catching in a private living room show thanks to Sofar Sounds, covered one of my favorite bands (who dropped one of my top albums of 2014). Their rendition of Future Islands’ Little Dreamer is a sparkling, enchanting treat, carrying their African influenced sound and some neo-soul dreaminess. Bells Atlas is currently in the middle of a residency at Oakland’s Era Art Bar, and they’ll be supporting San Francisco’s Geographer in late February as part of this year’s Noise Pop Festival.
Bells Atlas blends Afro-rhythms, soulful vocals, percussive
arrangements, and an overall knack for precise instrumentation to tread
the delicate line between intelligent and accessible. Regarding the
band’s new single “Future Bones,” lead vocalist and percussionist Sandra
Lawson-Ndu said, “The song marries comfort and familiarity with
surprise and adventure, two themes not only present in its storytelling
nature, but also in the musical composition.” [Read More]
Last Friday, June 26th, was a big day. Yesterday I dedicated a medley to the Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, but with that my day was only just getting started. That night, I also saw Bells Atlas give a life-affirming performance at the Lyric Theater.
The warm up act was something to behold. At times, I wanted to call it a stereotypical weird local act, but Pegasus Warning undoubtedly has talent. Pegasus Warning is the moniker of Guillermo E. Brown, and I was tempted to shout, “Pegasus, that’s you!” but I controlled myself. He had a voice that impressed, but all in all it was quite a lackadaisical performance. Even still, Brown had a good rapport with the crowd, which gave him the perfect platform to experiment, and he certainly left his mark.
Bells Atlas were next to take the stage, and they did more than just take it, they commanded it. The talent exuded in all of them individually is what draws me to their music, showing that such an amalgam of sound can be so satisfying, and seeing it live was breath-taking. The driving force of Bells Atlas is obviously in their vocalist Sandra Lawson-Ndu, whose voice killed it in person.
My favorite track, “Bling,” which features quite an interesting lyrical construction, truly came to life in the live performance. As an aspiring drummer (in my head only), I also thought that Geneva Harrison was on point. The precision of each track is often dependent on her rhythm, and she lived up to the challenge. Bassist Doug Stuart offered his vocals on “Sugar For the Queen,” another track that expands on the versatility of this band. If you haven’t heard theirHyperlust EP yet, set aside fifteen minutes later today and give it a go, you will not regret it.
To cap off the night was a rousing set from New Zealand-born, LA-based DJ, Mark de Clive-Lowe. Nia Andrews joined him on few tracks, and her voice floated beautifully along with the beats of Clive-Lowe. Most of the crowd disappeared after Bells Atlas concluded, which made the venue seem pretty empty, but that just meant more space for- and less people to judge- my uncoordinated dancing.
“Incessant Noise” w zamyśle osadzony w afrobeat. Utwór czerpie z długiej tradycji afrobeatu łącząc to z pewnego rodzaju ukojeniem przy rozpaczliwym tekście i “szuranej” perkusji. Głos wokalistki to istna kołysanka dla naszych uszu, próbujący przeciwstawić się naszym lękom, niepokojom.
In the realm of political songs, the focus trends more towards what wrong needs to be righted, or at the very least exposed. They place a lot of blame on the man in charge. It’s an effective way to say that things need to change, but what about the more subtle workings of the political stage? Bells Atlas explores this with their debut single “Video Star” and with great results.
Coming from a mix of backgrounds, this new group from Oakland, CA creates what they call Afro-Indie-Soul in order to provide an intricate understanding of all those present for a political event. With swells of strings and guitar, Bells Atlas creates a brooding environment around the enchanting vocals of Nigerian-American singer Sandra Lawson-Ndu. “Video Star” is the first single for a full-length the band is prepping for the summer of this year, and you can download it at their Bandcamp [link]. The upcoming debut has the potential to make 2013 an even greater year, and Lawson-Ndu says it best with this track: “Everybody loves when you say ‘progress.’”
Polaroids I snapped after Bells Atlas’ show at The Continental in Downtown San Jose. If you ever get a chance, you should definitely see these guys live. They remind me a little bit of both Little Dragon and BBNG combined. Such awesome people. Thanks guys! <3