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Bells & Whistles

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Album Review

The phrase "Arkansas/Tennessee Brit-pop" might sound like an oxymoron. Having a Southern-influenced approach and playing Brit-pop usually don't go hand in hand. But if any album fits that description, it is Chase Pagan's Bells and Whistles. The Arkansas-born, Tennessee-based singer/songwriter gets a lot of inspiration from the Beatles and various U.K.-based alternative pop/rock and Brit-pop bands they have influenced, such as Coldplay, Radiohead, and Travis. However, Pagan has his North American inspirations as well; the California-born folk-rocker Jeff Buckley is an influence, and Pagan's falsetto vocals can be twangy and folksy in a way that underscores his Southern roots. So it isn't a stretch to describe this 2008 recording as "Arkansas/Tennessee Brit-pop." But while Pagan has an intriguing variety of influences, he is never pretentious about it; this reflective, contemplative effort is very organic-sounding, and it is also the work of a singer/songwriter who has clearly mastered the art of effective storytelling. "Don't Be Gay," for example, describes a father who isn't happy to see that is son is turning out be gay, while "John and Betty" is about a prostitute who becomes engaged to one of her clients. And on "The Lonely Life," Pagan tells listeners about a father and son who have become estranged. Pagan, much to his credit, makes all of these characters very believable; he doesn't shout or preach to get the listener's attention, but he definitely gets his points across as a vocalist and as a songwriter. Pagan shows a lot of promise on Bells and Whistles, which demonstrates that the Southern singer/songwriter is well worth getting to know.

Customer Reviews


I think this guys is great. I enjoy all of his tunes.

Buy this album!

This is one of those albums that you have to listen to a few times before it really sinks in. If you are a fan of the Beatles or some good folky music, you will love Bells & Whistles. My favorite track is "Bring Down the Day". It's very atmospheric and organic. Overall, Bells & Whistles is beautiful, original album. Be sure to check out Chase's previous album, "Oh, Musica!" as well!


Born: Wynne, AR

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Born in Arkansas but based in Memphis, TN, singer/songwriter Chase Pagan's heart-on-sleeve tunes come across like Jeff Buckley for the Coldplay generation, balancing earnest lyrics and impassioned (often falsetto) vocals with pleasantly catchy keyboard-based alternative pop. Surprisingly, Pagan also has roots in the post-hardcore alternative metal scene; his first production deal came about as a result of his demos falling into the hands of members of the screamo act Glassjaw, who in turn recommended...
Full Bio
Bells & Whistles, Chase Pagan
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Customer Ratings