Workingman's Bellfuries (Hi-Style)
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 20, 2015
While the title references the Grateful Dead, Bellfuries haven't gone hippie-dippy. Rather, it's acknowledgment of the locals' work ethic and their treks between Austin and Chicago to make the LP a reality. The Windy City is home to producer/studio owner Jimmy Sutton, who's made waves producing and playing bass with JD McPherson. The latter recorded the Bellfuries' "Your Love (All That I'm Missing)" on his acclaimed debut Signs & Signifiers, and the two acts share a love of Fifties/Sixties rock & roll. Where McPherson draws from the dark edge of progenitors like Howlin' Wolf and Jerry Lee Lewis, the Bellfuries remain a pop powerhouse reflecting the sweetness of Buddy Holly and early Beatles. The Austin quartet even pulls off a spry version of the Fab Four's "She's a Woman." Lead singer-songwriter Joey Simeone mirrors simpler times with songs like "Loving Arms" and "Under the Light of the Moon." That it's all accomplished with a hint of Smiths melody and R.E.M. jangle allows Workingman's Bellfuries to straddle eras.