Music » Critics' Choices

The BellRays

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“That’s Not the Way it Should Be” by the Bellrays, from Hard Sweet and Sticky (Anodyne Records):

Spiritual kin of the Dirtbombs, the BellRays, from Riverside, California, channel a similar blend of soul-soaked groove and steely garage clamor, highlighted by frontwoman Lisa Kekaula's howling and growling Tina turns. Founded in the early '90s, the BellRays have gained momentum since the millennium and are supporting their eighth album, Hard, Sweet and Sticky, a sweaty, hip-swiveling pulse pumper on local label Anodyne. The new stuff ranges from smoky, wah-inflected blues such as "One Big Party" to jazzy late-night R&B and greasy garage crunch, all without missing a gut-kick. Kekaula's fiery vocals elevate the sound well beyond its rudimentary rock roots, giving the band a sultry slink that you'd leave the back door unlocked for.

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