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'Til Summer Ends

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Album Review

At once fluid, atmospheric, and haunting, Bela's full length debut comes across as a resurrected Kurt Cobain fronting Yo La Tengo as they cover a batch of Elliott Smith songs. Given the grunge roots of lead singer Jeff Hogan, formerly of Cultural Exhaust, it comes as little surprise that many of the tracks approach the masked tension and brooding honesty associated with that genre. Even so, there is a more graceful, at times almost classical, pop sensibility here, due in large part to the dynamic use of cello. With the beautifully sweeping strings of "Graduation Day," the full-bodied tuneful pop of "Love Lane," and the forceful marching drums of "For Those in Need," a new pop aesthetic is approached. Where the quirky "The Happy Bomb" brings to mind the simple pristine malleability of Yo La Tengo, Bela seems to have little interest in creating a similar artful dissonance. Still, Julia Kent, of Rasputina fame, occasionally uses the cello in ways similar to that of John Cale's viola, at times finding a screeching Velvet Underground spirit. However cohesive the musical vision remains throughout the 15 songs here, certain tracks, with the '60's spy movie feel of "Back in the Strip," almost resemble the strange Gregorian chant quality of the Yardbirds' more ambitious pop material. In the end, the unconventional and uncompromising sound most resembles a form of gothic chamber pop that is undeniably depressed, though certainly not depressing. If only all grunge had evolved into such a wonderful mutation.

Customer Reviews


I wish the band had stayed together to make another album! Unfortunately, I believe they broke up due to... That's another matter. The album is bright in a bitter sense. The cello/violin use is absolutely beautiful in a dark and melodic manner. There is a big goth sound in this album. I highly recommend.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active:

Foreboding and somber like a Bela Lugosi movie, but with a musical aesthetic more in line with Béla Bartók, critics have long spun superlatives that point to this band's chosen namesakes. The comparisons are apt, though, as Bela's music is foreboding and cryptic, yet lush and sweeping, in ways that unite the disparate influences. Having formed in 1997 from the leftovers of New York City's Cultural Exhaust, lead singer and songwriter Jeff Hogan and drummer Fred Pisciotta (both "featured zombies" in...
Full Bio
'Til Summer Ends, Bela
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