Athlone Advertiser - July 1 2011
SLOWLY BUT surely Bell X1 developed from a creative and highly entertaining Kildare band, doing the college circuit under the name of Juniper, into an Irish phenomenon called Bell X1 who are on the edge of breaking America.
Bell X1 are currently touring America on the back of their latest album Bloodless Coup. Galway audiences would have first come across the songs when the band previewed them during last winter’s mesmerising acoustic gig in the Town Hall Theatre.
Bloodless Coup brings the band deeper into the world of their idols, namely Talking Heads, not that that is a bad thing, although their lyrics are wonderfully unique to Bell X1 and Bell X1 only.
There is no doubt that since the band’s expansion - they became a five-piece band three years ago in conjunction with their fourth album Blue Lights On The Runway - they have progressed nicely. Bell X1 are now taking full advantage of their new members and have created two strong albums that have kept die-hard fans happy as well as gaining commercial success.
Bigger and better
Speaking about the bigger and better Bell X1 while on tour in America, David Geraghty told the Galway Advertiser that the band’s chemistry has never been better.
“Tim O’Donovan [Neosupervital] was with us for Blue Lights On The Runway and then Rory Doyle and Marc Aubele got involved in touring,” he says. “The chemistry was just right, they’re brilliant players, fun to hang out with, and totally selfless!”
The progression from their Flock album to the new sounds of Blue Lights On The Runway and Bloodless Coup is thanks, in no small part, to a bigger band which has resulted in a different approach to making music in the recording studio.
“With the five piece band there is no imagining the parts,” explains Dave. “We can realise all the parts at once, it’s the only way to get the full picture when recording. There’s no more imagining sounds and parts that have yet to be recorded.”
When Bell X1 were a trio, explains Dave, “there was a lot of pre-production and a lot of time spent nailing down arrangements. This is a much better way to work and I think we sound more confident.”
The addition of Rory Doyle on drums and Marc Aubele on guitar and keyboards has helped the band experiment with keyboards, beats, and electro on their last two albums, while still bringing their usual quirky lyrics with them, and allowing them to play acoustic tours in both Ireland and America, to rave reviews.
Bloodless Coup was recorded in the famous Midlands studios, Grouse Lodge in the serene village of Rosemount, Co. Westmeath, where Michael Jackson made his last recordings.
“Paddy Dunning, the owner of Grouse Lodge, had many interesting stories about Michael allright,” laughs Dave. “Paddy likes to hold court when you’re staying out there. He had a few good stories, one about Michael’s car running out of petrol and he had to push the car down the road, now how much you believe of that I don’t know!”
Returning to the Big Top
For anyone who saw Bell X1 play the Big Top in 2006 you might remember a few technical difficulties getting in the way of a great night! Dave is optimistic about this year’s gig on July 16.
“Hopefully this time around we’ll be more triumphant,” he says. “Other than a few technical difficulties it was a really good gig and the Galway Arts Festival is always a great thing to be part of.”
The band are currently touring in America and will be bringing the tour to Galway, with a few changes to cater for the home crowd.
“We’ll probably keep most of the set the same as the US tour, there are just some parts of a set you don’t change but we might alter the start and finish, and the encore,” says Dave. “Gigs allow music to ebb and flow and there’s a natural flow to things. It’ll be a pretty simple gig.”
And after so much success at home as well as in the States, Bell X1 plan to tour Australia next, making this summer’s gigs a must attend before the indie pop group head to the southern hemisphere.
Bell X1 have a busy tour schedule ahead of them including Sea Sessions in Bundoran, the Marquee in Cork, and Marlay Park, Dublin, all after a whirlwind tour of America. Dave is fully aware of the importance of playing live and touring.
“Bands are taking to the road to survive, as there’s not as much coming in from album sales,” he says. “There’s no denying it’s tough at the minute.”
Tough as it may be Bell X1 were lucky enough to snag a rooftop date with Mark Zuckerberg as part of a new series of live gigs to be streamed on Facebook.
“Facebook were looking for someone with a big enough Irish profile to launch the start of live event streaming,” he says. “We were delighted that they asked us to do it, even if there were a few technical difficulties!”
The band got to meet Zuckerberg himself, something which Dave admits was a bit surreal.
“The boss man was even in town for the launch and we got to meet him,” he says. “He’s a really quiet guy, very unassuming, but still a multi-billionaire! Something which you wouldn’t expect he’d be from looks alone!”
Bell X1 play the Galway Arts Festival on Saturday July 16 at 6.30pm in the Festival Big Top in the Fisheries Field, as part of their Bloodless Coup tour. The band will be supported on the night by Duke Special and Liam Finn. Tickets are €35 through www.galwayartsfestival.com and www.ticketmaster.ie
RTE.ie Entertainment - "Flock" - October 13 2005
With the release of 'Music in Mouth' in 2003, Bell X1 crafted a stunning collection, but the real test lay in whether they could do it again. The wait is over, their third album, 'Flock', is here, and it's every bit as good as its predecessor.
Bell X1 have put together a diverse collection, with the rocky vitriol of 'Reacharound' moving smoothly into the disco beat of 'Flame' and the gentler tones of 'Rocky Took a Lover'. The sounds here, as well as the lyrics, are intriguing. The songs meander unexpectedly, taking different directions and adding to the album's complexity.
When you can find something appealing about every song on an album, even the ones you wouldn't call your favourites, you know you've got something really special. Such was the case with 'Music in Mouth' and Bell X1 have done it again on 'Flock'. A turn of phrase or an interesting melody in the songs here finds you really engaging with the album, and the band behind it.
'Flock' is an accomplished collection from a clever and inventive band, whose talent deserves heapings of praise. Success at home seems assured, and 'Flock' should help Bell X1 make a real impact abroad too.
Katie Moten, 4/5
Hot Press - Olympia, Dublin - November 3 2005
"Today in Dublin, BellX1 fever is more virulent than the office outbreak of winter flu. They’re on the radio, doing in-stores on Grafton St. Water-cooler talk is of who’s got a ticket, who doesn’t have a ticket and, as the panic of the ticketless sets in, who’s got a spare one.
To see BellX1 at their hometown show is not just to witness the first live airing of Flock. It’s also the proud moment when our boys come good. Indeed, they’ve taken a confident stride forwards, walking on stage in suits. The audience know they mean business. ‘Reacharound’, a born opener, kicks off the set and after that there’s no fag breaks for an hour and a half. As only fit for such a momentous gig, their spot-on set delivers unrelenting goosebumps, whether it’s brought on by the haunting undertones of ‘First Born For A Song’ or the sheer joy of ‘Alphabet Soup’.
It’s only next to the unrestrained cheers for Music In Mouth songs that the Flock response is put in perspective (for they’ve all but disowned their debut, Neither Am I). The album is only five days on the shelves and it shows. Given time, ‘Flame’ will no doubt be the band’s live highlight, but for this evening the award remains with the night’s closer, ‘I’ll See Your Heart And Raise You Mine’, touchingly delivered by a shut-eyed Paul Noonan as if it were the first time he told the story of the angel who played poker with the devil in the Garden of Eden before it all went pear-shaped.
Noonan stops to thank the crowd three times during the night, sounding genuinely humbled to be number one in the mid-weeks and play to a fervent audience. But when they put on shows as compelling as these, the gratitude’s all ours."
Hot Press - Oxegen 2004
"We arrive in time to hear Bell X1 soar through Eve (The Apple Of My Eye) to a soggy but delirious crowd, standing dripping and grinning on the Ticket Stage tarmac. Paul Noonan’s crowd are at that delicious point in a band’s career where they can do no wrong – in fact, as odd as it sounds, it wouldn’t be overstating it to say they’re the heart of this year’s Oxegen in the way that The Frames, not appearing this year, usually tend to be. Paul himself, meanwhile… well, a girl can’t turn her back on Bell X1 for a second, ‘cos even in the few short months since we’ve seen them last he’s become, in a word, a rock star. Writhing and jittering through the searing skrunk of ‘Tongue’, the shapes he throws onstage make you recall those early comparisons to Radiohead – but’s more than a lazy label, and it’s more than a passing resemblance to the voice, or in any case it doesn’t stop there. It’s that presence, that feeling that something life-changing is alchemising onstage: they’re magnetic. Just to prove it further, they knock out a lovely, delicate ‘I’ll See Your Heart & Raise You Mine’, segueing at its end into the Flaming Lips’ ‘Do You Realize??’, and despite the unsubtle sound and attention-deficit-disorder audience that you get at a festival, they pull us into the palms of their hands as easily as if we were in the Olympia or Vicar St. We’re so proud."
HMV.co.uk - "Music In Mouth" July 2003
'Music In Mouth' is the new album from Dublin-based quartet Bell X1. The band are Paul Noonan, Brian Crosby, David Geraghty and Dominic Phillips, who have made music together in many guises since the early 90s. The album was recorded over the course of 2002 in a series of locations from Ridge Farm Studios in Surrey and The Fallout Shelter in London, to various houses in Dublin, Kilkenny and London. 'Music In Mouth' was recorded by Jamie Cullum (Tom McRae, Perry Blake). Notable guests on the record include Olli Kraus (Beth Orton) on cello and Margaret White (Sparklehorse) on vocals and violin.
While they're not overly keen to blow their own collective trumpet it is certainly true that repeated playing of `Music In Mouth' reveals its depths. Whether that's in the ingenious central idea of opening track 'Snakes And Snakes' (there are no ladders), or the equally satisfying picture that I'll see 'Your Heart' and 'Raise You Mine' conjures; whether it's the way the banjo sounds like an eastern instrument in 'Alphabet Soup', the simple elegiac qualities and atmosphere of 'Bound For Boston Hill', or the neo-folk jug band eroticism and exuberance in 'West Of Her Spine', these are songs that stick around and make their presence welcome. Put simply, 'Music In Mouth' should show the world that Bell X1 are a band that have something for everyone. Includes the single 'White Water Song'.
'And so the Irish invasion picks up pace, as Kildare's Bell X1 spring from the traps. More robust than the Thrills, closer to the finished article than the Basement, Bell X1 have been four years honing their sound. This is rock with gusto and drive and confidence and intent, Radiohead as Radiohead should sound now. It puts down a brave marker' - NME
Heathenangel - Music In Mouth
“Music In Mouth” is Bell X1’s debut album in the UK, their first, “Neither Am I” was released in Ireland only. The majority of the album tracklisting is made up of ballads, however, opener “Snakes and Snakes” is an interesting take on the children’s board game snakes and ladders and shows from the outset that not all the songs to come are heart wrenching tear jerkers.
Although the songs are mainly string and piano led ballads, there are other styles in here too. “West of her Spine” takes after “The Coral” with its country/blues-y sound while the first two singles “White Water Song” and “Tongue” follow a more rocky path. “Music in Mouth” closes with “I’ll See Your Heart and I’ll Raise You Mine”, a song about the angel and the devil on your shoulders falling in love. A strange song but one that leaves you in a quiet reflective mood, and which encapsulates the mood of the album overall.
For me, there is one stand out track, the stunningly beautiful “Eve, the Apple of My Eye” which is definitely one of my songs of the year. Sadly the rest of the album doesn’t live up to this standard. It is rather inconsistent, however, where it is good it’s outstanding and more than makes up for it.
While Bell X1 are not yet consistent enough to have fully earned their given title of “the next Radiohead” they certainly are one of the best new bands around today and “Music in Mouth” more than does them justice.
Sophie Sharpe, 2003
Heathenangel - Music In Mouth (5 track sampler)
Having been around for a few years and now having broken Ireland with their debut album, ‘Neither Am I’, Bell X1 turn their attention to the UK. Instead of releasing and promoting ‘Neither Am I’ here in the UK, the band instead begin their campaign for UK chart success with a new album, presumably in part to appease their Irish fans who would have grown impatient and disgruntled at having to wait for the Bellies to attack the UK charts before any new material would have appeared.
‘Neither Am I’ is a wonderful collection of songs displaying an eclectic range of influences and styles bringing a freshness to ‘indie rock’. Some of the tracks contained on this sampler show some attempt to build on their Irish debut. The opening 2 tracks resemble ‘The Bends’ era Radiohead with ‘White Water Song’ being a frenzied rock number and forthcoming single ‘Tongue’ taking a more laid back stroll, building throughout to a rock climax.
‘Next To You’ could almost be any mid tempo indie rock ballad number but is saved by a nice addition of some trumpet towards the end. ‘Eve, the Apple of My Eye’ on the other hand is a gorgeous heartfelt ballad but again offers little different from what is currently available. ‘Snakes and Snakes’ returns to the mould of the material on ‘Neither Am I’, taking standard indie fare and giving it a little twist and distinctiveness.
Provided the rest of the songs on the complete album are in the vain of this sampler then Bell X1 have the potential to make a few waves in the UK and start build up a following over here. If that happens, we may just be rewarded with the release of ‘Neither Am I’ in the UK – and that is a tasty prospect indeed.
Scott Brown, 2003
Released: 28th July
NY Times - Bell X1 - January 23 2005
"You may have heard of this band's former lead singer, Damien Rice, who departed the group (then called Juniper) in 1999. But no matter: with "Music in Mouth" (Road Records), you can't imagine anyone but Paul Noonan, the new singer supplying the vocals.
"Eve, the Apple of My Eye" is as soaring and joyful a sad song as you'll hear. "In Every Sunflower" is channelling some serious "Kid A"-era Radiohead. The album was recorded in a series of locations, and it feels that way - coherence is not its strong suit. But who needs coherence when you have "Alphabet Soup," which is alt-rock at its finest, instantly catchy and a nice use of the always underrated banjo, or "Next to You," which sounds like a song from a band that has listened to its share of Neil Finn?
If you're looking to nurse a broken heart, these guys will make you feel good doing so."
Hot Press - Eve, The Apple Of My Eye
Eve- The Apple of my Eye
01 Jun 2004
"Bell X1’s transformation into one of the big bands is already in process, with only an all-conquering run of festival appearances left to complete the picture.. As such, the release of another single from Music In Mouth is probably something of an afterthought but this is still an effortlessly lovely ballad. More interestingly, you have to wonder that if Snow Patrol could break so spectacularly across the water, is a similar fate for this lot such an unlikely prospect? Not at all."
Colm O'Hare, Hot Press
Cork 103FM - Mandela Hall, Belfast
Shoegazing is rampant both on and offstage and interaction between band and crowd is almost non-existent.
Only during the final number It Should Be Always Like This, is their any indication of life. Edgeweather can be a lot better than this; tonight they were pretty ordinary.
Playing only their second gig ever, Lefaro could give lessons in warming up a crowd. Somewhere in between his commitments with Corrigan and his solo performances, Jonny Black found a spare half hour and decided to share a veritable feast of riffs he had hidden away.
Amazingly tight for such a new outfit, they ease their way through thirty minutes of gritty garage rock and if the response from the crowd is anything to go by, gig number three should be a busy affair. Watch this space.
Headliners BellX1 are tonight playing only their second headliner in the city, yet word of mouth seems to have generated a sizeable crowd. Opening with the slow-burning Daybreak, it’s not until Snakes & Snakes that the charismatic Paul Noonan gets the opportunity to break from the confines of his microphone and guitar and the pace is raised.
For the duration of the set, he is undoubtedly the focal point; captivating even while standing still, he encapsulates the aura of what a frontman should be.
He’s in a jovial mood tonight too, relaying his childhood image of Belfast as an ‘exotic’ place (due to having an Argos!), and leading the crowd through a question and answer cover of Outkast’s Hey Ya!; ‘What’s cooler than being cool?’ being met with an en masse ‘Ice Cold!’
Music in Mouth is simply an outstanding album and tonight it accounts for the bulk of the set. As rich as it is varied, quieter moments such as Next To You and Eve, The Apple Of My Eye only serve to make the back to back power of Tongue and White Water song all the more dramatic.
Making it’s debut outing, new song Bigger Than Me is possibly their finest to date while I’ll See Your Heart & I’ll Raise You Mine, adapted tonight to include a quick run through Cash classic Ring Of Fire, concludes proceedings, the band leaving the crowd wanting an encore but not getting it. Forget Snakes & Snakes, it’s ladders all the way for BellX1.
Alan Maguire (Alternative Ulster), April 7 2004
irismagazine.net - Vicar St.
Here Ye, Here Ye, For I Have a Tale
"In the middle ages, the bugle announced the arrival of greatness. Tuesday night in Vicar Street, it was the trumpet."
"Bell X1 have all the qualities that make you so fuckin’ proud to be Irish- Paul Noonan’s haunting, yet tender vocals, Dave’s dexterity on guitar, keyboard, harmonica and vox as well as a defiant drummer, bass player and rhythm guitarist."
Hot Press - "Bell Of The Ball"
"Music In Mouth"
17 Jul 2003
If there's one clue Bell X1's second album is giving away prior to listening, it's that the songs will be doing the talking.
Recorded in a cottage in Wexford, Music In Mouth, the band's second album, is a decidedly more lo-fi affair than its predecessor, and goes to great lengths in order to illustrate the band's evolution from electronica-and-random-weird-noises indie rock to more comfortable, well-worn sounds. No doubt as a result of their relentless touring schedule, Music In Mouth is a more unified, distinctive and cohesive record that showcases the band's multiple directions, adding further conviction to the depths of epic balladeering on 'Eve, The Apple Of My Eye', the quirky pop of 'Next To You' or the manic rock of 'White Water Song' (albeit with a decidedly indie sensibility).
Another string to Bell X1's bow is the fact that their search for strange new sounds is no longer confined to an effects board. Take for example 'Bound For Boston Hill'; a soulful, yet uneasy, down-tempo and (I hate to say it) Radiohead-esque track whose balmy basslines and haunting, otherworldly vocal give dimension to the song without crowding it with layer upon layer of digital wizardry. Similarly, 'Daybreak' is a stellar effort that sees the band utilise heady atmospherics to create a warm, fuzzy, dream-like sound.
However, they haven't banished the guitars. Album opener 'Snakes & Snakes' boasts a beefy riff, and the aforementioned 'White Water Song' (one of my favourite singles of the year thus far) makes no excuses for its abandon. Utterly manic, serrated hooks prevail, with Paul Noonan's vocal adding a bluesy gloss. In fact, one of Bell X1's greatest assets is Noonan's voice, and his words possess a kind of emotional weight not too dissimilar from that of his former bandmate, Damien Rice – evocative, arresting, and yet so spine-tinglingly hushed. Take 'In Every Sunflower' – a gentle lo fi number that sees Noonan employ the honeyed tones that herald the Thom Yorke comparisons: gentle caterwauls and heady vibratos, complemented by sustained, melancholic keyboards and subtle rhythms.
On Music In Mouth, Bell X1 have emerged as a band more comfortable in their own skin. Their sound is now more of a collaborative band effort, and is thus more charged and potent, laced with an inherent Bell X1-ness that overrides and nullifies the fact that the album is not breaking uncharted musical ground.
Rating: 8.5 / 10
DubLinks.com - Bell X1
Our very own Bell X1 take to the stage at Vicar St on the 6th of December.
Bell X1 + Damien Rice = Juniper, or rather
Juniper – Damien Rice = Bell X1.
Juniper formed in 1991 when Damien Rice, Brian Crosby, Paul Noonan and Dominic Phillips were still in school in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. They kept the band together while in college, playing weddings, 21st Birthday parties and the like. They soon hooked up with Dave Geraghty, who opens their eyes to a whole new range of music.
In 1999 Damien Rice decided Juniper was not working for him and took off for Tuscany. That seems to have worked out for him; he found his voice and has gone on the great things.
The same can be said of the rest of the boys too though: they carried on without Damien, renaming themselves Bell X1, after the first plane to break the sound barrier. The association with the ideas of breaking barriers and something to do with sound suits them well.
If Juniper were a promising band, as attested by their singles Weatherman and The World Is Dead and their EP Manna, then Damien Rice and Bell X1 are two individual fulfilments of that promise.
Later on in 1999, Bell X1 recorded their first album, Neither Am I, produced with the help of Nick Seymour of Crowded House. It was a downbeat Indie-Rock affair that suggested, as their Juniper work did, a whole lot of potential. The following year after a few single releases and a load of gigs, they released Neither Am I to the public.
After those brilliant gigs, the recording that was released may have seemed a disappointment to those who had grown used to their live sound. The album was endowed with numerous strong moments, but like too many other debuts, those moments fall short of coalescing into a unique and unified whole. But their live performances on the other hand succeed where the recording failed, not hinting at greatness, but showing it off.
After the release of Neither Am I, there was a cooling off period for the band, with the various members heading off to attend to personal projects, playing and recording with a variety of other bands and artists such as Gemma Hayes and Mundy.
They came together again in 2002 to record a second album, Music In Mouth, which was just released on the 18th of July. This new release ups the tempo a little, sounding a little like Radiohead on (more) psychedelics. Again there are many great moments (Check out 'White Water Song' or 'West of her Spine' if you have any doubts), but it is not always clear what they are meant to fit into.
What ever about their recordings, their live performances always pay off. If the inventiveness (or should that be re-inventiveness?) demonstrated on Music In Mouth is anything to go by, the 6th promises to be an excellent show from this young band.
Time: 8.00 pm
Tickets: €16 available from Road Records and Sound Cellar. €17.50 through Ticketmaster outlets, www.ticketmaster.ie.
58-59 Thomas St,
Tel.: 454 6656
HMV.co.uk - "Snakes & Snakes" - September 2003
"Irish four-piece Bell X1 have been playing together in one form or another for over ten years. Previously they were a five-piece known as Juniper - the fifth member being the now solo artist Damien Rice. The opening track and highlight of the album, 'Snakes And Snakes' is a clever idea with a quirky slant and a jauntily infectious, Travis-esque melody running through it."
entertainment.ie - "Music In Mouth"
Up until now Bell X1 have existed very much in the shadow of Juniper, the much-hyped band they used to be before vocalist Damien Rice left to pursue a successful solo career. Well, it's time for that to change - for the second album from the resilient Kildare lads is so good, it renders their past history completely redundant. A hugely self-assured collection of intense yet fragile love songs, Music in Mouth impresses on just about every level. And while Paul Noonan's songwriting contains echoes of everyone from Radiohead to Talking Heads, his erudite lyrics and Irish cultural references give Bell X1 a character all of their own. With the singer-songwriter genre dominating the Dublin scene at the moment, it's about time for bands to make a comeback - and Bell X1 should be leading the charge.
Bell X1's second album, Music in Mouth, is out now. The title for the new album comes from the poem, 'The Planter's Daughter' by Austin Clarke. Hot on the heels of last their latest single, 'Tongue', and following a spellbinding performance at Witnness, Bell X1 go back to full throttle touring mode in the UK. They tour over there until the first week in August when they return to Ireland for a tour starting on 9th August in The Village followed by live shows in Cork, Limerick, Clonakilty, Dundalk and Belfast. Bell X1's debut album Neither Am I was released in Ireland in October 2000. Since then they have built up a loyal following, released a couple of well received singles and played some great gigs.
Shakenstir.co.uk - "Music In Mouth"
One of the bands I'm looking forward to see at this year's Irish Witnness Festival is this one. Contrary to the view of UK promoters and media people, the Irish music industry is going from strength to strength, and achieving it with distinction, originality and quality.
This is a new and beautiful album from one of Ireland's very best indie-rock bands. First track, Snakes & Ladders opens with jangling guitar chords and the seductively smooth tones of its lead singer, Paul Noonan. There's a strong folky flavour to a song that bounds along with a strong melody and distinctive, vivid rock ambience. It really is a bit of a stunner. Track two, Alphabet Soup, is another delicious, medium-paced pop/rock song with a massive melody and another wonderful vocal performance by Noonan who sounds somewhere between John Lennon and David Byrne.
So far, two songs, two potential charting singles. Daybreak slows the pace dramatically with a dark, ghostly song of mesmerising beauty and deep emotion. I'm reminded of Radiohead and Coldplay as I listen, and frankly this is better than any of these bands' most recent work. Stunning.
Stark keyboard notes introduce the next track, Eve, The Apple Of My Eye. This song just blows me away with its melancholy and contemplative beauty. There's even a couple of Beatles instrumental moments on this heartstopping and epic track. The songs just keep coming and I'm left breathless at the wonderful achievement here. There's welcome diversity of pace, wonderful lyrics, very strong melodies, and great production from a band who have beat Coldplay at their own game.
Certainly one of the finest and most beautiful albums I've heard this year. Essential.
Irish Independent - "Music In Mouth"
Three years have elapsed since Bell X1's debut album - a long time ago for a band trying to establish themselves in a fraught industry. But they've used that time productively. Most of 2002 was spent working on the follow up to Neither Am I. And what a wonderful album it is.
Music In Mouth - the title derived from an Austin Clarke poem - is the sound of a band in supremely confident form. Snakes & Snakes, Alphabet Soup and Tongue (and old song, co-penned by former band mate Damien Rice) are effortlessly catchy upbeat numbers.
But Bell X1 are at their best when they slow the tempo down. Anybody who doesn't find the melancholic Bound For Boston Hill to be one of the most sublimely languid pieces of music released this year should be checked immediately for a heartbeat.
Sadness permeates the album. Much seems to be inspired by the tragic death of former No Disco presenter Uaneen Fitzsimons, who was in a relationship with frontman Paul Noonan at the time. In Every Sunflower, with its funeral organ and Noonan's plaintive vocals, is a heartrending masterpiece.
Their influences are many, but you can hear the atmospheric sound of Pink Floyd in Daybreak, while the piano-driven Eve, The Apple Of My Eye sounds like Coldplay at their best.
RTÉ - "Music In Mouth"
Naming your band after a plane has always been a good career move (think U2 and The B52's, and not 70's Dublin scenesters DC Nien). Kildare fourpiece Bell X1 picked up their catchy monicker from the aircraft that broke the speed of sound and it's a far cry from their first incarnation as limp Kildare unit Juniper, a band led by now successful solo artiste, Damien Rice. Luckily, the name change has also meant a change in musical direction. That the direction is one already explored by Radiohead and Coldplay is the problem - BOUND FOR BOSTON HILL, TONGUE, and the albeit excellent IN EVERY SUNFLOWER, were clearly 'A' students at the Thom Yorke/Chris Martin school of doom. However, Bell X1 find their own voice on the hearbreaking EVE, THE APPLE OF MY EYE (a refashioned Juniper song), and better again, the demented trash of former single WHITE WATER SONG and Byrdsian opener, SNAKES AND SNAKES. These are the songs that could point the way forward for this already fine band.
Big records come, big records go; the biggest treats are those you weren't expecting. Like this one. Nothing on Bell X1's routine debut suggested they were capable of this but as 'Music in Mouth' knows and shows, things don't always turn out as expected.
It sees the quartet pushing themselves in different directions and coming up with a joy and sadness that prove as contagious as each other. If they sound grown but not fully on 'Tongue' and 'White Water Song' then the rest of the tracks shows a band thinking outside the a,b,c of guitar rock.
The likes of 'Snakes & Snakes' and 'West of her Spine' bounce on a ramshackle, romantic charm that's only heightened by the shade offered by 'Eve, The Apple of My Eye' and 'Bound for Boston Hill'. Even then, the class of the latter are eclipsed by the closing tracks. 'In Every Sunflower' and 'I'll See Your Heart & I'll Raise You Mine', may seem to offer more heartache than hope but if this has any advice, it's to keep on keeping on. And no one can hear that too often.
Bell X1 - "Music In Mouth"
THIS, it has been suggested, is what Radiohead would sound like if they had a few better tunes.
Such comparisons heap a considerable weight of expectation on the shoulders of this bright Dublin band, though this album suggests they are up to it.
What we have here are love songs with a twist of lemon - slightly sour but piquant rather than corrosive.
Just occasionally we get a song of true beauty such as Eve, The Apple Of My Eye, and the entire album is never less than intelligent well-crafted rock which covers all bases from the mordant plod of Bound For Boston Hill to the angry guitars of Tongue and White Water Song, by way of edgy and enthralling janglers like Snakes And Snakes.
After just one complete listen the maturity of this being a second album is very clear. A lot of the grand and affecting changes that singer Paul Noonan has in his voice have definitely come with repetition. Perhaps I'm not supposed to be telling you that it's not a debut, because as first albums go it would definitely be one of this years best so far. But Bell X1 aren't as fresh faced a bunch as The Thrills, tracks like "Alphabet Soup", opener "Snakes & Snakes" and "Tongue" have a we love playing these loud and live quality about them. Layers of banjo and guitar swell along to the internal-mini-epic choruses. It's all gloriously uplifting when blasted out nice and loud.
The band have also been handed this year's honour of being the new Radiohead. It's a lazy comparison, because Bell X1 take a more personal and poetic view of a much smaller world than the grandiose confusion spewed by Thom etc. If you do want a 'sound-a-like' then Elbow (the new Radiohead MKII), Turin Brakes or Tom McRae (who they've supported) do spring to mind; big songs about small subjects sung with power and grace.
BBC - "Music In Mouth"
Unthreatening guitar music from Dublin.
Students! Don't see what the fuss is all about with this noisy post-punk stuff? Not keen on bands that incorporate animal suits or woodland into their stage act? Then Bell X1 could be the band for you. They're good, you know, not like The Stereophonics or anything. Alphabet Soup sounds a bit like Radiohead, circa 1995, and the sun-dappled folkiness of Daybreak and West Of Her Spine is pretty damn gorgeous. OK, it's terminally earnest. And sometimes you can shut your eyes and ALMOST hear a nasty Daniel Bedingfield cover version. But there are worse things you can sob into your lonely pasta dinner along to.
Iris Magazine - Bell X1 rock The Village
Bellx1 at The Village August 9th
Support from The Veils
NME said they were playing music now the way Radiohead would be in similar times and I happen to disagree whole heartedly with this statement. The band that brought us Pinball Machine and such memorable tunes is riding the crest of the fame wave. Right now, in the post-gig awe I'm feeling about this band I would say that NME’s quote is not compliment enough to emphasise the sheer brilliance of our own Bellx1 and their music.
The band, formerly known to those who saw them in Whelans or touring in years gone by as Juniper and minus former band member Damien Rice, brought a sweating wreathing village crowd to its knees with a non stop rollercoaster of a rock show.
This sold out event was undoubtedly one of my personnel music highlights of the year for Irish live music and showed just how far Bellx1 has come as a band, as musicians, songwriters and performers.
Support on the night came from Brit rock outfit The Veils with whom Bell have been touring England with and who delivered a sufficiently interesting set to merit them attention as a focus of the night rather then simply a precursor to a spectacular show. However I will say it would have been to The Veils advantage had their stage presence remotely paralleled that of Bellx1 who non stop seemed to be having the time of their life with the audience while The Veils seemed too much focused on quality rather then enjoying themselves and interacting with their audience, mores the pity in my mind as this helps build a rapport between a group and its new listeners.
Then Bellx1 took to the smoky stage only to be greeted by an unprecedented cry from the already sopping, sweating crowd, (no one seemed able to shut up about the sweat and the heat all night) and soon our shiny faces were transfixed by the stage.
From the first bar of their opening tune the guys showed the diversity and emotion and rock influences in their music and now especially with this new material which is full of metaphors, intelligent lyrics and amazingly catchy riffs, material which will undoubtedly lend to their stealing the baton away from The Frames as Dublin’s number one live Irish rock act. This show was packed with tunes from the first album ‘Neither am I’ and so many potential hits from the new one, including new single Tongue which shows nothing if not the scope and range of the way these guys write and produce tunes.
With a short and to the point comment to the crowd about the sheer honour and pleasure they felt upon hearing the welcome Bellx1 received, they really did deliver that indescribable rock and roll vibe, lacking in buckets right now in Dublin with the churning out of melancholic soft rock by local bands, and delivered a non-stop ride of rock music.
One of my top three live gigs of the last five years. If you are really smart you’ll catch the boys on their Irish tour dates in the coming weeks and get tickets early, they vanish and with good reason.
Music In Mouth is out now.
Uncut Magazine - "Music In Mouth"
"Taking their name from the first aircraft to break the Sound Barrier, Paul Noonan's Band construct literate love songs that are the polar opposite to stadium rock. They've also maintained their Celtic personality without paying lip service to the new Irish movement. Noonan's imagery takes nursery ideas and spins them into adult problems on 'Snakes and Snakes' and 'Alphabet Soup'. Elsewhere there are developed sensual ideas at play. "West of her Spine" and "I'll See your heart and raise you mine" match strong melody to a level of intrigue befitting inhabitants of Joyce's Dublin."
NME.com - "White Water Song"
"And so the Irish Invasion picks up pace, as Kildare's BellX1 spring from the traps. More robust than The Thrills, closer to the finished article than The Basement, BellX1 have been four years honing their sound. This is rock with gusto and drive and confidence and intent. Radiohead as Radiohead should sound now. It puts down a brave marker."
virtual-festivals - "White Water Song"
Hailing from Ireland, this new four piece sound like The White Stripes would if they were a complete band playing Nico songs mid-flight on a rollercoaster. Led by vocalist/drummer Paul Noonan, this debut 7" features the unrelenting attack of 'White Water Song', its b-side 'In Every Sunflower' is a softer, scuzzy affair more beautiful than hard-hitting. A fine debut though. 8/10
altmusic.net - Bell X1 live
The Louisiana, Bristol - 30/07/2003
Bell X1; The Veils
The indie rockers Bell X1 and The Veils put on a little show for us Bristolians at The Louisiana. Shyness and some lovely music followed, as well as lovely flashy light things.
Today wasn't exactly my most organised of days; early this morning I got an email from PR 'reminding' me that I'm meant to be seeing The Veils and Bell X1 in the evening… I smiled, then suddenly realised that I was intending to attend another gig that night. I then think carefully, remember that it's either some art-indie or generic punk rockers Grebo and emo thingies My Awesome Compilation. I firmly decide that maybe indie is the best bet.
Just in case my day couldn't get any more awkward, I foolishly forgot my camera, so if you're going to scroll down expecting Rich's Radical Photos, think again, there aren't any. Don't cry; that was my job earlier.
Anyway back on track; arriving fashionably late as usual (I spent a good half an hour 'navigating' for my mate who was providing the transport, and subsequently getting him lost on what is usually a 5 minute drive), I entered the venue to find that in fact I'd missed no bands, and within minutes onto the stage stepped some indie boys who clung together and group hugged. How lovely. Ladies and gentlemen, this is The Veils.
Playing what I would describe as 'shy-art-indie-core', The Veils assumed the position of possibly the most reserved people ever, featuring a bassist who looked far from happy to be playing and doing harmonies and a singer who seemed to think that if he ever looks someone in the eye he might turn to stone. It was all a rather strange experience really; did you feel any connection with the singer, and despite the massive amount of emotion he put into his music, he seemed somewhat TOO detached from the people in front of him.
At times this was an uplifting beautiful experience to see someone so indulged, but at other times it seemed that he was 'trying to be' Jeff Buckley with his singing style and stage presence; sadly he didn't fool me and despite showing a good range at times, his vocals seemed somewhat forced in comparison to the aforementioned late music god's flowing sound… and as for the presence… he doesn't even come close.
Still, it's unfair to associate a lower profile singer with such a high profile and respected artist, and on a whole they weren't a bad band, yet sadly their songs stretched out too far and didn't really 'go anywhere', almost stuck in stasis and too scared to come out (wow, same as the vocalist then). However, eventually the music picked up and on reaching the end the band played an absolutely gorgeous ending 'rock out'; just shame the rest of the set wasn't up to much really… (6)
Next on the double bill bonanza were Bell X1; admittedly, I hadn't heard a second of this band's material before entering the venue, but the minute they laid down their first few notes, I was impressed. Playing what was quite an eclectic mix of sounds, Bell X1 pleasantly surprised me by their ability to take the old tried and tested indie genre, rework it, and make something really quite special out of it.
Blessing us with the classic 'Alphabet Soup' (if you don't find yourself toe tapping to this song there's something wrong with you), 'Next To You' and an absolutely stunning number played with a banjo for the first half, Bell X1 really threw everything they had at the crowd; luckily the crowd took the Irish group in with all their warmth, and by the time 'I'll see your heart' was played (“Playing poker…I'll see your heart and raise you mine”), the whole atmosphere was electric.
From the warming smiles of the singer and his tambourine to the beautifully played piano and harmonica by the guitarist, the whole band just 'fitted' together perfectly; every song was perfectly orchestrated and played brilliantly in every way. I have to admit it; Bell X1 are great. (9)
Bell X1 may not be rewriting and redefining the 'rules' of indie music, but they seem to be going a long way towards bending and twisting them in every way possible. The Veils on the other hand, just didn't 'do it' for me; the combination of the utter shyness and (generally speaking) somewhat stunted songs just put me off. Shame really...
Richard Amos, altmusic say: 7/10
Hot Press - "Absolutely awesome"
11 Sep 2002
That's co-producer Nick Seymour's verdict on Bell X-1's forthcoming LP, due out early in the new year. But first: a visit to the Temple Bar Music Centre later this month.
Bell X1 emerge from studio hibernation on September 26 when they swing by the Temple Bar Music Centre.
Fans will be able to get a sneak preview of their second album which has been pieced together in Sussex's Ridge Farm Studios and assorted Wexford, Kilkenny, London and Dublin abodes. Production assistance has been rendered by ex-Crowded House man Nick Seymour who enthuses, "The songs sound absolutely awesome."
Signed last December to Island Records, the quartet had been planning to make "a simple, live and ropy sounding record that embraced the likes of Talking Heads, Television and Blondie. That didn't really happen, as there was inevitable over-excitement and now the record features vibraphone, glockenspiel, harmonium, banjo and much choral singing."
The as-yet-untitled collection is due in early 2003.
Hot Press - Bell X1
Neither Am I
26 Oct 2000
Bell X1's debut album displays a touching uncertainty. Apart from the robust vanguard of 'Pinball Machine' and the confident swish of 'Man On Mir,' Neither Am I has a preponderance of translucent ballads. Most of these, while genuinely lovely, are not as striking as they might be, due to the distant, dreamy production style.
Bell X1 really get it right on the elegant, hypnotic heart-tug of 'Offshore' and the quivering closer 'Deep' is superb. They fare well with songs which don't take themselves too seriously – the sweet nostalgic sentiment of 'Slow Set', for example, or 'Blue Rinse Baby' with its schoolyard sketches and references to legends of childhood TV, like Button Moon and Bagpuss.
A good strong shot of passion could have really invigorated Neither Am I in some places, particularly when you consider how a potentially ballsy number like 'Face' is allowed to slip by when it should really have shaken the album out of its reverie. Then again, in some cases, the addition of unnecessary flourishes, like the semi-comic vocal echoes on 'Volcano', can detract from the delicate power the song inherently possesses. The writing is very articulate, but there's a danger in trying to be too cerebral.
I would love to be able to ladle on the superlatives here, but there's a sense still of potential unfulfilled.
It's a good start. Now, let's see Bell X1 go from strength to strength.
The Voice - Issue 11 March 2001
THE FUTURE IS IRISH
Bellx1 was the rocket plane which broke the sound barrier, clocking in at 600mph back in 1947. Breaking sound barriers may be a little out of the bands capabilities! What is more likely is the breaking of the charts in the UK and the US to a clap of thunder. Following the release of the bands debut album back in October to collective critical album, the band are taking it slowly and low key.
Formed from the remnants of Juniper in 1997, the guys took the longer and harder route, ensuring they had firm ground below them before they headed out on the road to success. They went through a tumultuous time with the takeover of PolyGram, by Universal just as they had been signed, but they emerged, took time and recorded their debut.
The album 'Neither Am I' has been described by those in the know 'as the best thing to come out of Ireland in years, showing an underlying genius and the hints of the greatness which will undoubtedly emerge'.
On a wet night in Maynooth I catch up with the multi-talented Brian Crosby, who plays both guitar and keyboards in the band. "Everything went surprisingly smoothly. In theory we shouldn't have come through the way we did, we were very lucky", says Brian of the departure of ex-Juniper front man Damien Rice and the corporate takeover hell they endured. The remaining members of the group were in limbo for a while, but Paul Noonan (who would assume vocals), Dave Geraghty (lead guitar), Dominic Philips (bass) and Brian knew they had to go on, music was the most important thing for them. "We weren't sure it would work, we took 3 months, recorded, rehearsed did a few gigs and it was great".
With the guiding experience of Nick Seymour, ex-bassist with Crowded House they headed to both London and Wales to record their debut album. "Being away to record the album we became more focussed, it was exciting to be away. Channelling all our excitement and energies into recording". Aided by the experiences gained by their days as Juniper, they were able to harness this in the studio and come up with an album which was both mature in its sound and fulfilled what they had hoped for. "A lot happened in the studio that wasn't there when we went in. We were very happy with what was recorded".
The influence of Nick Seymour is evident both on the album and in their live sound, with songs like 'Slow Set' and 'Pinball Machine' being examples of the Antipodean twang. Brian having been slightly reticent up to this point talks warmly of Seymour's involvement, "he acted as a fifth member, jumping from instrument and conducting things". Brian coughing intermittently throughout the interview, maybe a sign of the late night rock and roll excesses or a sign of what is to come. Brian seems very sure of what he wants and that is to play music, and he seems very focused on getting what he can out from it.
At this point we divert slightly as the masses clamber at the entrance to get in to the gig. We trade ripostes on those awkward teenage discos, which is touched in the album with 'Slow Set'. Too embarrassed to admit my shortcomings, Brian comes through the nice chap that he is. "I was disturbed at learning there was a code between girls, if there was a girl you liked her friend would wink at her that she was needed in the toilet. That pretty much meant she wasn't interested. I think I heard that once!". So take note all you warm blooded males out there from a man with experience.
Getting back to the business of the band, the future looks bright for them as once this short tour is over they will once again hit the study with the smooth production touch of Mr Seymour and they are going abroad. Brian feels that as a group, they are a lot smoother "as a performing entity, quite coherent and in tune with what everyone is doing". There is always the 'virus' which many Irish bands have caught and been unable to shake off, that of 'Oh, we must stay here and pay back our loyal fans'. I would hasten to say that the group have no qualms about heading abroad to sell their wares. Music is becoming more and more of a global village, but most especially rock music.
Brian says "our sound would be more at home in the American market", if put to the test he says with a wry smile he would pick America before success in the UK charts. Watching Brian on stage after our interview, switching from keyboard to guitar effortlessly a la Johnny Greenwood I think the band they made the right choice to carry on. So keep an eye on this band they may soon take off, don't get left behind.
witnness.com - Bell X1
Emerging from the wreckage of their former band Juniper, Bell X1 are one of the most vital and hardworking bands on the Irish pop calendar. The 'Men from Mir' have got passion, energy and the rocking wherewithal to get any crowd moving, so this Witnness appearance is just perfect.
Where's The Craic - Bell X1 tour
The first time they played the venue there were more people on stage than they were in the audience but, months later and much publicity since, Bell X1 drew in a respectable crowd in Cleere's last Friday night. In the absence of their drummer, singer / guitarist, Paul sat behind the kit and explained that “I don't generally become Phil Collins”. No stranger to the skins (he's been known to play drums for a certain Gemma Hayes on occasion) he did a great job. The band have echoes of Radiohead and Jeff Buckley at their most reflective but there's a brilliant tenseness about their music, like they're always teetering on the edge of sonic paroxysms - which they do give way to just at the right times.
Promoting their Universal debut, Neither Am I, produced by ex-Crowded House man, Nick Seymour, the band aired their excellent singles, Pinball Machine and Man on Mir alongside other choice cuts from the platter such as Slowset, Face, Godsong and The Money which features the coolest slide guitar this side of a Budweiser ad. Other stand-out tracks on the night were the whimsical, Offshore, Alphabet soup and Boy loves Girl which unfortunately didn't make it onto the album.
Bell X1 also have a strong underlying current of dirty funk in their sound and the inspired use of the wah-wah peddle is very enjoyable. The vocals are high and the music is serious but you shouldn't lump this band in with the current bunch of falsetto moaners that are bombarding the charts ( Coldplay anybody ?). Bell X1 have the right ingredients to become filthy rich but only time will tell if this fine new Irish band can reap the benefits of their active musical imaginations.
Where's The Craic - Bell X1
The long anticipated debut album from Bell X1 finally arrived. After long deliberation I was still unconvinced. The album I felt lacked energy, it was lack lustre and insipid in parts. However in the subsequent interval between this review and my conclusion I had the opportunity of hearing the band live in radiant form. The same songs I heard had new energy, passion and stunning musical talent. If this had been captured on the album we would have had a stunning debut.
The album opens on the soothing and catchy "Pinball Machine" which was the opening single off the album. This is closely followed the guitar driven "Man on Mir". Other favourites on the album included "Slowset", "Godsong" and my personal favourite "Face". Songs like "Alphabet soup" and the touching "Boy loves girl" were dropped in favour of a track like "little sister" which already debuted from their days as Juniper.
Overall I feel the production by Nick Seymour and Rob Kirwan has over influenced a possible classic. The sound is over produced, too clean cut and some songs even soul less. However the songs are lyrically challenging and the musical style is extremely creative. We eagerly anticipate new work which we are sure will drive this band to where they deserve to be, the top!
Zeitgeist - Bell X1 - June 26 2001
Temple Bar Music Centre
Friday 6th July, 7.30pm
The much anticipated year 2000 saw many changes in the supposed "Irish Music Scene". One of the finer augers of what is to come, came in the form of "Neither Am I", the debut album from Bell X1. The Nick Seymour-produced debut album saw Bell X1 shake off the legacy of Juniper – their former incarnation – with their angelic-voiced drummer Paul Noonan stepping up to the microphone, complementing a softer, more subtle style of writing. Described by it's authors as "campfire disco", "Neither Am I" encompasses both sweet, emotive ballads and high-octane, rattly rock `n' roll with a singularly subtle brand of electronica present throughout.
Having toured for much of the first half of this year, the band are currently taking some time out to start work on their second album. This once-off show in the Music Centre will be the only chance to catch the Bellies in Dublin over the Summer.
Support on the night comes from Blue Screen and Matt Lunson.
Neither Am I is released on Universal Music Ireland.
What's On Where - November 2000
To swap the post of drummer for that of lead vocalist is a trick which very few dare to try and even less have success with. But, if this record is anything to go by Paul Noonan seems to have not only pulled this off with some degree of style but has also managed to put behind him the past of the bombastic, ill-fated 'next-big-thing' Juniper. Here, this Celbridge combo switch from moody, swaggering indie rock-out's like the sneakily infectious 'Man on Mir' and Roxy Music/Longpigs hybrid of 'Blue Rinse Baby' to half-whispered acoustic lullabys ('Beautiful Madness') and 'Slowset'. Above broody piano tones the words “no more love on the dance floor unless you're out of your head” lament the passing of the slow set as the ghosts of teenage disco's past come back to haunt with a melancholy chorus. With tunes like 'Volcano' and 'Face', Noonan & co dip their toes into the same swamp that Gomez splash about in while delicate, drowsy pieces like 'Deep' and 'Beautiful Madness' carry the spirits of Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake. Although this record may not herald the dawn of a new era in music, this album displays a distinct ability to easily flirt with various styles while creating some truly memorable songs.
CLUAS.com Album Reviews - 2000
Bell X1 'Neither Am I'
An album of curious charm and warmth, Bell X1's debut 'Neither Am I' is a record that most of us here in the wonderful world of music thought we would never see following the demise of Juniper a couple of years ago.
Juniper were a band that promised the lot. Attitude, songs, poise and even the five-a-side skills of truly great rock stars (or so a former flatmate once said). They were signed up but after a couple of singles (including the memorable 'Weatherman') they entered the file marked "dropped." But they weren't really dropped at all. Frontman Damien Rice went his own way and the rest of the band applied a new moniker and a new sense of direction. After some inspiring live shows in the past year or so their debut album has finally arrived. The first two singles 'Pinball Machine' and 'Man On Mir' promised something special and with 'Neither Am I' that promise is thankfully delivered. But you get a tingling feeling that they could have delivered more. But even so, as an indication to a band finding their feet in major label land, it's a damn sight better than most of the pap that crosses the channel on the back of occasional Top 40 success and an appearance on Jools Holland. And it contains 'Volcano'.
The opening chimes of 'Pinball Machine' set the tone of the album. If you were expecting an album choc-a-block with rockers like 'Man On Mir' then you're in for disappointment. The album progresses at a smooth and laid back rate. "I could have been a contender / but instead I'm content" sings Paul Noonan over a delicate backing and if you read into that then you'll find a band at ease. Nick Seymour's production shimmers from the off and straight away the tale of love as, er, a pinball machine endears you to a band brimming with frustration at the finer things in life yet satisfied that, although things can be bad, they can't get too bad. 'The Money' is more subdued than it is live but it still works perfectly, its biting lyrics losing none of their steam.
'Man On Mir' is one of this year's truly great Irish singles and it slots in nicely early on getting the urgency over with early. 'Slow Set' is the first of a duo of slightly whimsical songs, the other being 'Blue Rinse Baby', that take the serious and subdued side away from Bell X 1. Whereas the album flows with a subtle and smooth edge, 'Blue Rinse Baby' recalls the Small Faces messing about with a pissed studio crew, but - as songs about pensioners go - it's one of the best (anyone know any other pensioner odes?). 'Slow Set' is a marvellous ode to that part of teenage life that's lost in today's clubs, namely the nervous circle spinner to Bryan Adams or Glen Medeiros or whoever. It perfectly captures those slow set moments of inadequacy, nerves, meddling friends and dancefloor stiffys. As a look back to a bygone time, it's enough to bring a tear back to any eye that first met on the dancefloor of a disco all those years ago. 'Offshore' is largely forgettable, as is 'Little Sister' where the paranoid lyrics do seem a little dated in the "look I've just read a George Orwell book" sense. But in the songwriting stakes 'Volcano', 'Beautiful Madness', 'Face', 'Godsong' and the terrific album closer 'Deep' showcase a band at their best.
'Godsong' recalls Roger Waters in a way. You could almost picture Waters snarling lyrics of God at the dinner table, the whore in your bed. Beautiful Madness starts with what the Frames would call a perfect opening line with "give me an opinion c'os I don't have one". The rest of the song could have been written about the long departed Rice ("you're mad to burn / mad to fly / mad to be saved") but even so a beautiful song pans out in the face of tempers flaring. 'Face' is another wallet bursting slice of a la carte rock and benefits from the presence of Nick Seymour on backing vocals. The one thing it sadly lacks is the sauce. It just needs that extra little dash, that fierceness, that burn that would have made it a meatier prospect. Still, as it is it's another finely tuned and smoothly produced indication that Bell X 1 are something to relish.
The shimmering 'Deep' that closes this fine debut embellishes and again could be another written about Rice ("we have one up on each other / the same mistake" could be about Juniper's PolyGram days if you like thinking of that sort of stuff). Pink Floyd in feel and execution, it sets the sun nicely on a classy, shimmering album.
All in all, Neither Am I is crafted to smooth perfection by the production and influence of Nick Seymour (and probably the Welsh countryside). It's an album that lends itself both to the ear and the brain perfectly, in reverie or in anger. An absorbing, calming listen. However it's a slight shame that some of their live power and Noonan's priceless drumming wasn't let loose in the studio. As a calling card though, it manages to sustain the interest from start to finish and stylishly paves the way for greatness which, if there's any justice, will undoubtedly follow.
Bell X1 (formerly known as Juniper) had two chart hits in 1998 with "Weatherman" and "the world is dead". Described as "campfire disco", the music ranges from big rattly rock and roll to sweet aching ballads.
Influences include Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, The Velvet Underground, and DJ Shadow.
The band will make it's Waterford debut in The Showboat, Thursday 26th October at 10pm supported by ex-Shanks lead singer Stanley O'Sullivan who now plays as Stanley Super 800.
Will the real Bell X1 please stand up? An ominous identity crisis besets the hotly tipped Kildare quintet. Are they anaemic Jeff Buckley wannabes, all fey flourishes and granite scowls? Or bone-rattling, neo-industrial noiseniks, dissecting their anthems with red eyes and gritted teeth?
Here's the problem: driven by a rumbling rhythm section, Bell X1 thrash out an incendiary live performance. Throbbing instrumental workouts dominate a gut-wrenching, white-knuckleride set. But when they mute the feedback and make like sullen tune-smiths, everything dissipates into mush.
Languid opener No More Love on the Dancefloor flaps and squawks but, mired in bathos, crashes to earth with a splat. The group's vocalist possesses a modicum of charisma, but the posing quickly grates. The pilfered angst is irritating because it's so unnecessary. If they quit pretending to be great lyricists (they're not) and settle for whipping up a racket, Bell X1 would be near-untouchable.
Where's The Craic Interview
Having marked their departure from all things Juniper with their opening single "Pinball Machine", Bell X1 are touring for much of the summer, with an appearance at the Witnness festival in August. A super-limited edition EP, "the perfect height for kicking", is available at venues, featuring a live track from Vicar St. earlier this year, and three unreleased studio tracks.
The follow up single "Man on Mir" is to appear in early September, with a remix by Johnny Moy appearing in a dishko near you from July.
The debut album, "Neither am I", is released in October. Produced by former Crowded House man Nick Seymour (soon to become the Puff Daddy of Irish Nu-rock, with not-so-cameo appearances on the record, and, rumour has it, the new video) it was recorded in quaint, remote Wales and mixed in hard, city-like London.
All Ireland Music - Reviews "Neither Am I"
Over the past five years the Irish rock scene has been deluged with an infinite amount of young, energetic bands looking for their first big break. Among this posse was a band called Juniper. After a bright beginning, however, Juniper went the way of many before them, opting to disband after endless record company wrangling and the departure of their front man.
To their credit, the surviving members regrouped, renamed, enlisted a new front man and went back into the studio. The band is now Bell X1. The album is 'Neither Am I'.
Before Bell X1 entered the studio to record the album they received a highly significant boost: not only had they proved that they could survive the ruthless corporate mauling of the record industry, they also had a 'name' producer online, Nick Seymour, formerly of Antipodean favourites Crowded House. The result?
Well, clearly the quartet have potential, yet there is very little on 'Neither Am I' to set Bell X1 apart from the rest. 'Pinball Machine' eases the listener into proceedings with the trusty trio of acoustic guitar, bass and piano. A gentle song, it hints at Bell X1's leanings towards melody, always a good sign.
Something of a false dawn, however. The country guitar sound of 'The Money' irritates more than inspires. 'Man on Mir' sounds too much like Blur to merit any praise. The album then plods along at a pedestrian pace, with positive flashes submerged in too many mediocre guitar songs. 'Offshore' and 'Beautiful Madness' offer signs of Bell X1's potential but the album ultimately meanders on to its indifferent conclusion. On the production side of things, credit must go to Seymour for his minimalist style.
If the songs were a little stronger all round then Bell X1 could have had a minor triumph on their hands. As it stands, 'Neither Am I' fails to significantly arrest the attention of the listener.
On 'Volcano', Paul Noonan, who sounds like a hybrid of Glen Hansard and Liam O'Maonlai, sings "This is nothing new". Unfortunately, I agree.
All Ireland Music - Bell X1
Bell X1 have recently formed out of the ashes of Juniper - a band well respected and admired. However Juniper collapsed following record company problems and the loss of their front man and the group spent a number of years in limbo.
But they have reformed and renamed and have developed a more diverse sound delivered by the charismatic Paul Noonan on vocals. With Crowded House Producer Nick Seymour working on their debut album, Neither Am I, the band appears to have acquired a successful formula. Bell X1 make regular appearances at Whelan's live venue, Wexford Street in Dublin.
They recently released their debut album, "Neither Am I".
Did you know?: Manic Street Preachers Producer, Mike Hedges was to work on Juniper's album before they disbanded.
Hot Press - Nick Seymour interview - March 30 2000
"Seymour has been resident in Dublin since the demise of Crowded House, and as well as writing his own material, he has also donned the hat of producer. His latest production number, the debut album by Dubliners Bell X-1, is due for release at the end of March. What drew him to the band?
I'd known them when they were called Juniper, but when the original singer left and the drummer took on the duties of frontman I noticed a real change in their attitude. The guys are all multi-instrumentalists, and their songwriting is superb. Plus they re fun guys and that always makes things easier.
We recorded the album in Wales, as I'm a resident alien in Ireland and it s a complicated process to acquire permission to work in the Republic. After Crowded House, when I began to produce my own music on a home recording system, I suddenly realised that I hadn't been paying attention to people like Youth and Mitchell Froom who had worked with the band, I was a production virgin if you like! In order to produce a sound to do justice to the quality of the music, I really had to learn from scratch."
The Lobby Bar Profile of Bell X1
Bell X1, the band formerly known as Juniper their debut album "Neither Am I" is to be released in the first week of April.
Having been signed to PolyGram, now Universal, since Autumn 1997, they have finally emerged from corporate takeover hell, surviving the purging that went on in the wake of the takeover, when many acts were dropped.
After the chartastic success of "Weatherman" and "World is Dead" in 1998, they had planned to record an album with Mike Hedges (producer of "This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours" by the Manic Street Preachers, among others) beginning in February 1999. It was around then that PolyGram was purchased by Seagram International, makers of fine whiskey.
Delays and frustrations within the band led to the departure of lead singer Dodi Ma (Damien Rice), and the band took time to re-group.
Having never been reliant on any one person for songs and how to sing them, they relocated to a residential studio in Wales and under the guidance of Crowded Houses Nick Seymour they recorded their debut album "Neither Am I".
"Pinball Machine" is the first single to be taken from the album and is due for release 3rd March. The album "Neither Am I" is to follow in April.
The Headling Agency - Bell X1
Formerly known as Juniper, who had two Irish chart hits in 1998 with Weatherman and The World is Dead, the band's line-up and sound has changed along with its name. When the original singer left the band, gifted crooner Paul Noonan took up the mantle. The newly born Bell X1 retreated to the remote valleys of Wales where, under the guidance of Crowded House's Nick Seymour (soon to become the Puff Daddy of Irish Nu-Rock), they made their debut record. Bell X1 are available for gigs from July 2001 on.