John Bellows // Fast Hits
Recommended Track: Rock and Roll Revolution
John Bellows, you musical madman that I’ve never heard of: You’ve really done it. Among the countless acts trying to emulate a specific sound rather than creating their own, you’ve just gone ahead, said “Fuck that,” and done your own thing. And just for that, I must thank you for invigorating my listening experience and resuscitating my hopes for humanity. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what lo-fi is all about. Here we present Fast Hits, a twelve track collection of songs humbly recorded over the span of six years. Whereas the longevity of such an endeavor would be detrimental to a “normal” musical project, it works wonderfully for Bellows and his assemblage of lo-fi oddities.
Setting the scene is “Full on Assault”, which is delightfully maniacal with wacky vocals and see-sawing guitar that gradually crescendos into pop rock insanity. And while “Taste the Shoeshine” and “Body Throne” take a more conventional approach (albeit the names), they establish John Bellows as a songwriter capable of catchy rock fare. But from that point on, Fast Hits assumes a variety of musical caricatures, each with its own distinctive personality: “Hopeless Case” as the lonesome western cowboy, “Worm Emergency Team” as the ’90s cartoon theme song that never made it, “Brown River” as a demented, sex-crazed Gospel singer, and “Doomsday” as a punk frontman reliving the glory days. John Bellows can also be sentimental in his own fucked up way, as “U Could Be Part of Me” and “La La La La La” lyrically demonstrate. And pseudo-religious anthem “Sell the Boat” dissolves into such absurdity that it’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard.
It’s really quite fitting that Fast Hits ends with a hilariously glam track like “Rock and Roll Revolution” because John Bellows has started just that. Please take note: John Bellows is reintroducing creativity back into the DIY scene. And although Fast Hits was released in 2013, John Bellows ditched the city life in Chicago for an isolated log cabin in the Pacific Northwest and is working on a new album with a tour to follow. I haven’t had this much fun listening to an album since Ariel Pink’s lo-fi classic Worn Copy. John Bellows and his work definitely deserve to be highlighted for you picky West Coast denizens.