BEST NEW BAND - 2005
Belles of Skin City
A quick internet search told you nothing and everything about this bearded bunch of Southern-fried rockers: no press, no biography, just page after page of concert dates and "best-of" lists. There's some pretty uncomplicated math behind that gigs-to-adoring-fans ratio, and it defines the kind of people who count themselves among the Belles' admirers; namely, everyone who's seen them. While it's not hard to love a band with song titles like "Lighten Up Katherine Lanpher," with Belles of Skin City, humor is a postscript to a letter otherwise devoted to the artful debauchery that is their rock 'n' roll. As in his previous group, Kentucky Gag Order, lead vocalist Dave Matters delivers his Les Claypool-inspired bubba drawl with the swaggering gusto of a natural showman, gesticulating with every available limb in illustration of his witty poetry. Behind this porch-swing sermonizing is a sort of Stomp-meets-Sousa ruckus that, as their neck-fanning, julep-sipping name implies, achieves that delicious balance between primped poise and lusty rawness. Kentucky Gag Order underwent a similar trajectory just before they released a stellar album and, immediately thereafter, imploded. For the good of sweaty Tennessee Williams-lovers everywhere, we hope the forthcoming debut from the Belles (on the great local label Learning Curve) won't have similar consequences.