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The Constant Pageant

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Album Review

Pretty much all of the elements of The Constant Pageant were present in Trembling Bells' music from the start, but on their third album, they seem to have fully focused their powers and crystallized their intent, which is as it should be at this point in a band's discography. The Glasgow group continues to display a profound passion for the more visceral end of British folk-rock à la Fairport Convention, specifically the aspects of that style that were informed as much by the jammy psychedelia of the day as by Child ballads. On "Just as the Rainbow," "Colour of Night," and others, Trembling Bells are in full-on Fairport mode, with Lavinia Blackwall belting like a 21st century Sandy Denny amid crashing, coruscating guitar chords and muscular basslines. "Otley Rock Oracle" captures the Glaswegians at their trippiest, taking a few tricks from the paisley-patterned bag of Bay Area ‘60s psych bands, with searing lead guitar licks leading into a full-blown freakout before bounding back into some tight folk-rock riffing at the coda. The stately (but strangely soulful) midtempo tunes "Torn Between Loves" and "Goathland" evoke classic Richard & Linda Thompson in their unhurried, anthemic gravitas. Both vocally and instrumentally, the Bells seem to have pulled together in a more tightly knit fashion than before, maintaining their organic, rough-hewn edge, but packing a more powerful punch. The Constant Pageant is a bigger, bolder, brighter Bells, and just the sort of thing to entrance listeners who might have been scared off by the more shambling side of their early efforts. ~ J. Allen, Rovi


Formed: 2008 in Glasgow, Scotland

Genre: Folk-Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Glasgow's eclectic Trembling Bells were founded in early 2008 by drummer Alex Neilson, an improviser who has played with Jandek, Bonnie "Prince" Billy, and Current 93, among others. Neilson formed the group in order to explore more structured, song-based music, and recruited vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Lavinia Blackwall (who worked with Neilson in the group Directing Hand), bassist/vocalist Simon Shaw (also of Lucky Luke), and guitarist/harmonica player Ben Reynolds (who played with Neilson in...
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The Constant Pageant, Trembling Bells
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