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  • Guest Collector: Bell X1

    Wed, 11 Feb 2009 12:15:01

    Guest Collector: Bell X1 - Bell X1 take flight stateside

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    Like much of what bubbles to the top in American culture, Irish rock band Bell X1 first gained notoriety by way of primetime television. Having their songs featured on hit shows like The O.C. and Grey's Anatomy hipped U.S. audiences to a sound that most of Ireland already knew. Now back with their forth studio album, Blue Lights On The Runway, the critically acclaimed trio are looking to see their stateside profile rise even higher. We tracked down the band's wonderfully literate lead singer Paul Noonan to give us a look at their musical influences through our Guest Collector feature, where he told us about R.E.M. dance parties, stumping for Wayne Coyne and running with the big boys.

    Bruce Springsteen - Born in the USA
    This was the first record I bought, at an age (10 years old) when I was trying to get with the older boys and what they were into. I don't have older siblings, so was introduced to music through friends' older brothers. I loved the bluster and bombast of it, the storytelling. Hammy and overblown it may be at times, but the theatre of it is still so compelling.

    Talking Heads - Fear of Music
    This became a band favourite of ours during the making of our second record. We were working in London, and would come back to the flat after a day in the studio and listen to its manic joy. A cliché I know, but joy is the hardest of emotions to do, and they did it so well. From the opening madness of "I Zimbra" to the sweetness of "Heaven", it's a wonderful record.

    The Flaming Lips - The Softest Bulletin
    This was the first of their records to come to our attention on our side of the Atlantic, and the spacey, scuzzy bombast and he-can't-really-sing-but-I-believe-him factor was like nothing I had heard. Again, they can do joy. I love when he sings. And though they were sad, they rescued everyone... For a while there, it was "Wayne for President!"

    R.E.M. - Green
    I don't think I've been more passionate about music than I was when I was 14 or 15 years old—getting a walkman and constantly talking about records with friends, copying and trading. This record was one I'd take to bed and marvel at all it painted in the dark. It even had it's own dance routine—to "Stand"—which we'd horse into at the disco.

    PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love
    I love how the production and the writing marry on this. Her dark theatricality is impeccably dressed by [producer] Flood in crap squelchy drum noises and farting bass...There's also a few beautiful soaring moments like "C'mon Billy". I remember coming home from college one day and seeing the video for "Down by the Water"..."little fish, big fish, swimming in the water, come back here man gimme my daughter"... no idea what she's on about, but wonderful.

    Nick Cave - The Boatman's Call
    Another beautiful production job by Flood, though a lot straighter and more traditional. I remember hearing that he did this while on a two week break from the everlasting U2 Pop recording, which left the boys very sheepish upon his return. So many beautiful songs, apparently written about the aforementioned Polly Jean Harvey. I love many of the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds records, there's no bullshit, they got better places to be...

    The Shins - Wincing The Night Away
    I remember listening to this in a record shop, to see what all the fuss was about, and not particularly liking it. As I heard songs from it here and there it really wormed its way in. I love the swooping melodies and the sound of his voice. I love the deliberate, naive playing and the stories he tells.

    Radiohead - Hail To The Thief
    I saw them play a small show in Dublin's Olympia Theatre just before this record came out. The new tunes were blistering; you could tell they were fired up about playing them, and it was a joy to behold. The marriage of 'proper' songs with the more experimental instrumentation and studio trickery really works on the record. I've been at a few recording sessions when the engineer would put it on at the end of the day after work is done, as people are sitting around the control room chatting, and a kind of hushed awe would fall on the room. Not that it's just a musician's record, just finely crafted.

    —The ARTISTdirect Staff

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