Sure, it’s great to go out and see a concert for the main headliner; but as a music reviewer, it’s the opening bands that get my attention. If you don’t take the time to listen to opening bands, you may miss out on that next band that will grab your heart and give you that thrill you get when discovering new music.
On November 5th, I was in the audience for the Helen Money concert. One of the bands there to open the show was Oberlin, OH’s Like Bells. Like Bells is a trio made up of Garrett Openshaw, Gabe Baker and Will Mason.
Garrett Openshaw, Gabe Baker and Will Mason met while they were attending classes at Oberlin College. As the trio of Openshaw, Baker and Mason were taking the courses needed to complete their studies at the institution, they were also busy creating a new band that features an Indie/Experimental Rock style. With Openshaw on Violin/Viola/Vocals, Gabe Baker on Guitars, and Will Mason on Drums/Keyboards, the band already had an unusual combination of musical instruments to make up their sound; so when the band started creating their music, the music being created was different and fresh. It’s that sound that was captured on Like Bells’ 2008 self-titled release.
The self-titled release from Oberlin’s Like Bells is instrumental; the music contains only the viola/violin of Garrett Openshaw, the guitar of Gabe Baker, and the drums and keyboards of Will Mason, with only a little embellishment from the vocals of Openshaw. As the band contains both guitar and violin, the music from the band has both rock and jazz qualities in it at the same time. When Gabe Baker and his guitar are the main focuses of the music, the band’s sound is based in the indie-rock mode. And when the band isn’t focused on the guitar playing of Baker, the band’s sound is a little bit more experimental in nature.
The CD from Like Bells contains 10 tracks. The best thing about the album is that you can just put the disc in the player, press play, and just let the album play out.
The album starts out with the track “Atlas,” one of the songs the band played live in concert. It is a great song that allows both Baker and Openshaw to take the spotlight and give the song a feel of both indie-rock and jazz at the same time. The next song on the album that caught my attention was the song “Can I Say Something To You?” The song is a three-minute slow jam that almost has a folk feel to it. Even though the self-titled album from Like Bells is an instrumental release, the band keeps the pace moving and keeps the music from getting stale by changing their direction from song to song. Openshaw, Baker and Mason, the three members of Like Bells, really know how to keep its audience entertained……….and their 2008 self-titled release proves it.
Many bands have been created from students that have attended Oberlin College over the last two decades, or so. Some of the bands that Oberlin College has produced have been: Package From Sally, little things, Circle With a Smile, and one of my favorites- Lovin Ripe Haggis. While these groups were good, not one did anything outside of the Oberlin area. Like Bells, the latest band from the Oberlin area, has done what very few bands from the school have done: They’ve started having a following in the city of Cleveland; and for good reason: The band has talent and their sound is very listener-friendly.
As has been said before, the best way to listen to the self-titled album from Like Bells is to place the disc in the CD player, put your headphones on, turn out the lights, and just let the music surround you. The music created by Like Bells is perfect for those times when you just want to enjoy some good music and relax. And what better thing to say about someone’s music than to say that it makes you feel good.
To find out more about Like Bells, check them out on MySpace at www.myspace.com/likebells. Like Bells’ self-titled release is available on Cleveland, Ohio’s Exit Stencil Records. The album is available in both CD and vinyl versions. The label features other bands worth finding on their roster. Some of the other bands include experimental rock band Mystery of Two and HotChaCha, an all-girl band that is also a bit on the indie side of Rock. To find the label, go to www.myspace.com/exitstencilrecordings.