Rock and Roll isn’t dead. The Bobby Lees are out to prove it with their latest album “Bellevue”
Someone once said “Rock and roll will never die”. Indeed since that line was first uttered rock and roll has stood the test of time. It sometimes recedes underground and occasionally pokes its head back into the mainstream. But above all, rock and roll is alive and well in the hearts of many millions of music listeners the world over.
The Bobby Lees are ushering in their own back-to-basics interpretation of rock and roll. Officially formed in 2018, the band consists of Sam Quartin (vocals, guitar), Macky Bowman (drums), Nicholas Casa (guitar) and Kendall Wind (bass). Their first album “Beauty Pageant” was released as a DIY project in 2018. They released their next album “Skin Suite” in 2020. Then in 2021 they hit the studio with producer Vance Powell (Jack White, Chris Stapleton, The Raconteurs) to record their latest full length album “Bellevue”.
Released 7 October 2022, “Bellevue” has a raw energy to it that one would expect from a rock and roll record. The album’s overall character is gritty and in-your-face featuring an unapologetic attitude to rival any rock outfit. Thematically the album doesn’t shy away from commenting on mental health issues. Many of the songs explore some of Sam’s own struggles with mental health.
Sonically the band brings a massive dynamic range to “Bellevue” considering they are a 4 piece outfit. The bass tones range from smooth and bluesy to fuzzed out and nasty. The guitar work is aggressive and energetic all around. The interspersed keys and piano help to diversify the flow of the album. The drums sound raw and aggressive and are played with the unmistakable passion of a real drummer. But of course one of the most important things on any rock record, the snare sounds awesome!
So, if you are in the mood for some unhinged and totally unfiltered rock and roll then crank up your stereo and let’s dive into this album.
Bursting out of the gate with an intensity that can only be found in rock and roll, “Bellevue” is a track that sets the high energy vibe for the rest of the album. The music video for Bellevue was released on the same day as the album. It showcases the dirty side of rock and roll in a way that only Sam could pull off.
Take my hand then you look to me, look to me
Then you say I don’t want you, you’re leavin’ me
As the title suggests, “Hollywood Junkyard” is the band’s scathing criticism of the Hollywood star making machine. The Bobby Lees don’t seem to think too highly of Hollywood doll up culture, to put it lightly. The accompanying music video drives home their opinion of the suspicious characters of the Hollywood system. This video in particular is the band’s best work to date in the visual arts world.
They given you everything that you could want, Oh its all for you
Then sell you one piece at a time till your body, you start turning blue
“Ma Likes To Drink” is a short song. The band brings an intensity to this track that dives the sonic space down the rabbit hole of this album. This track in particular is a fantastic showcase of the band’s attitude. The guitars are aggressive, the drums are wild, the bass is cranked to 11, and Sam’s vocal performance has an edge to it that makes her sound larger than life.
I found a number, called into the doctor, givin’ her the pills for free
She’s at the bottle, shakin’ from the handle, tie a little arm round me
“Death Train” is the sound of a train stuck at full throttle hurtling down the tracks. Macky(drums) and Kendall (bass) open up “Death Train” with the aggressive sound of that locomotive. Sam sings about the doomed passengers who are watching TV and hoping for the best on their train ride. The songwriting of the band is on full display on this track as the tempo changes and musical quotes combine to give us the sound of impending doom.
You bought the lie
So now it’s time to die
“Strange Days” gives us our first taste of piano on “Bellevue”. A dark piano ballad, this song comments on the dangers of our overdependence on technology. The Bobby Lee’s songwriting talent is very impactful on this track as it gradually builds the soundscapes around the piano and finally explodes into a heavy rock outro.
It’s a Murakami Dream
Take every telephone and smash in every TV screen
“Dig Your Hips opens” with a driving bass riff from Kendall. The other instruments crash into the soundscape like a brick thrown through a window. The dual guitar work highlights the skill of both Sam and Nick . The band pushes the speed of the song during the outro to end the song on a high energy note. The music video for “Dig Your Hips” shows the bands unhinged live performance style in what looks like a basement practice space. The video has the look of true garage rock as the band shamelessly rocks out.
Now I cant get it out of me
Now I cant get ’em out of me now
“Have You Seen A Girl” paints the image of insanity personified in the girl. The chorus in particular almost begs for the audience to chant along with the band at one of their high energy performances. The bassline gives the song an ominous sound of impending doom under Sam’s vocals. Have you seen the girl?
Well I know she does it to herself
Stealing all the hammers from the shelf
I tried to lock her out the store
But she keeps coming back beggin’ for more
The band smashes straight into “In Low” with a heavy descending guitar riff. Another short track, the aggressive drumming coupled with Sam’s eclectic vocal delivery gives the track the sound of descending into insanity.
Went wild up and down the street
And found your friend at the spot to meet
I stepped out, I needed air
I came back and there was no one there
“Little Table” puts the blues in blues rock. This song is a straightforward blues tune that features an organ and a traditional walking bassline. The band’s excellent songwriting is on full display on this track as they play with the huge dynamic range of the song for maximum emotional impact though several key changes.
You like to hide inside the corner there
Hiding notes inside my little chair
You gonna be my guardian angel
I’m gonna be your little table
The Bobby Lees ad a dissonant stabbing piano to the guitar riffs of “Monkey Mind”. The back and forth clashing of the instrumentals reinforce the theme of the song. Sam sings about her mental health struggles and learning to live with her monkey brain.
Now I see, I gotta learn to be kind
To my monkey mind, cause he’ll be with me till I die
In keeping with their unapologetic and in-your-face attitude, the band gives us an aggressive diss track in “Greta Van Fake”. The target of the band’s disdain is obvious from the title. Some rock bands are of the opinion that this particular band is “fake rock” and The Bobby Lees vent their feelings about it for two minutes and seventeen seconds. The bold on-the-nose reference in the title and the callouts throughout the track perfectly fit the attitude of the band and showcase their true feelings about what rock and roll should be.
Now we think it’s time you stepped aside and made some room
Cause I been needing’ something real, gimme something true
I think it’s pretty clear we ain’t gettin’ none of that from you
So step aside and make some f*ckin room
Before closing out the album, The Bobby Lees bring us their version of “Be My Enemy”, originally performed by The Waterboys. The band maintains their edge in this track with more roaring guitars and unhinged drums. They have put a lot of passion into this track at it seems like this song has found a new home in The Bobby Lees discography.
But if you’ll be my enemy I’ll be your enemy too
The album closes with an instrumental jam that features a surf rock inspired lead guitar line in “Mystery Theme Song”. The band sounds like they are having a bit of fun for their sendoff track by putting a dark spin on a classic chord progression. The dissonant vocalizations and fuzzy bass give the track an eerie vibe that wouldn’t sound out of place in an indie horror film.
That’s it for this release! We hope you have enjoyed the listen. As always stay tuned for news of all things music. In the meantime, rock on!