Bellhead and the Good Intentions:Rambling Review

Bellhead is a post-punk duo from Chicago that brings the dirtiest bass lines and danceable tracks in their newest EP, ‘Good Intentions.’ To me, the name of the EP comes layered in sarcasm, as the stories told through music are delivered with evil intent. Stalkers, sirens at sea, and pure nihilistic fun have brought me to understand the intent is not so comforting. Though elements of pop are embraced in the songwriting, the production maintains a minimalist approach that rejects fillers/unnecessary walls of sound.

The opening track Bad Taste introduces the EP with a four on the floor beat and low guttural vocals that describe the individual in question, “he says he’s a good man, doesn’t make it true” and “does he only want what he can’t have?” Even with the subject matter of stalking, I want to get up and dance to this. The chorus guitars contain an unexpected surprise that remind me of the atmospheric quality of various Nine Inch Nails tracks.

The second song opens with guitars that pivot to a different effect once the verse begins, and the mood is that of a classic horror movie. Into the Deep stirs a haunting narrative that conjures the imagery of water as destroyer. If the potential for surf rock is found here, we’re likely to drown. The bridge hits with spoken word and rounds out the song to something akin to hope as the siren is pursued.

Valentine is my personal favorite on the EP. The narrator seems to be pleading with a lover in what seems to be both romantic and tragic in the same breath. The music moves with a particular gothic sway that reminds me of Crying Vessel, and the lyrics are poetry.

Apathy kicks off with distorted guitars and asks ‘so what?’ in a nihilistic way that brings a smile to my face. The admission that ‘it doesn’t matter’ resonates in me a sing-along quality that makes this song an anthem. Crank this one for that righteous punk goodness.

The Love and Rockets cover No Big Deal is pure Bellhead fun. Their take on the song sounds like their own authentic work, which is what quality artists do when they seek to cover a song. The distorted bass shapes the song into something that fits in with their catalog perfectly.

‘Good Intentions’ closes with Drugstore Keri. This song tells the romantic tale where Keri is more of an enabler than love interest. The dirty bass makes for curled lips and movement on the dance floor. The concluding song feels like a cold drink of classic rock, and I love it.

This EP is worth a spin. If you enjoy post-punk songwriting grounded in the potential to dance, Bellhead is definitely something to consider. ‘Good Intentions’ will leave you craving more of the bad taste it’s gonna leave in your mouth. My only complaint is that I want more!


Death Loves Veronica:Music Review

Pulsating electronic bass coupled with electro-dance drumbeats is a signature piece that sets the foundation for the kind of vocals where I imagine the singer to be knee-deep in combat boots, standing on a stage of throats. Veronica Campbell has an impressive catalog, but since I’m late to the party, I intend to talk about the 2021 album, Chemical, and the 2022 single, When I Was Dead.

            I opted to check out Chemical the day before the new single dropped, and was pleased to find straightforward songs that take me on the kind of dark wave excursion I associate with contemporary gothic music. She’s not trying to go over the top, nor is she aiming to appear overly complicated for the sake of faux depth. No, it seems to me that Chemical is loaded with love songs written by someone who hates you. Lyrics like, “Nothing dies…the way you do,” in Spindeln was the first instance where my eyes narrowed as I looked to the side and thought, “hell yeah, that’s good loathing.”  Further down the track listing is There’s Nothing Left, where Veronica states, “I hate everything…that fucking reminds me of…you.” The song builds upon rhythm and atmosphere in an organic fashion that stops just short of the ‘wall of sound.’ There’s an emphasis on minimalism, as there isn’t a moment on the record that feels cluttered. Though uncomfortable, the lyrical content is the sweetest kind of bitter, and I’m left wanting more. 

            The twelve songs offer a total of fifty-six minutes of music, all of it appropriate to the thematic elements offered up at the start of it. It feels like a cohesive record that sticks to the honest approach of an artist, uncompromised. It’s been on repeat in my car for since the new single dropped. 

            When I Was Dead came across my radar thanks to guest guitarist, Tim Skold. I’ve been a fan of his solo work for years and he pops up quite a bit in the goth music community. This song has sleeker guitar parts than what was recorded on Chemicals, which was to be expected. But what stood out to me was what made the prior album so special…lyrical bleakness that reflects all I want to hear in a gothic/dark wave song. She croons, “Where were you when I was dead,” which, given the title, isn’t a surprising line, but I’m still taken aback as it’s exquisite when paired with the music. 

            A new record, Corruption for the Insidious, dropped last week on Bandcamp. From what I’ve heard, it’s more high quality ‘hate you’ anthems. It includes the single When I Was Dead. Go give this artist a listen.