Video Of The Week – Belly Shiny One
Without getting into a misty-eyed reverie about the days before streaming and ‘instant gratification’ a time when you actually had to wait to buy a song, I vividly remember the first time I heard Belly‘s ‘Feed The Tree.’ I was immediately hooked and of course, there then followed an overwhelming desire to purchase said tune. A simple task you might think. The only problem was that not one f**king bastard record shop stocked it … in any format. Not one! I mean this wasn’t living in the sticks, this was Liverpool, a big city and it was released on 4AD Records, not an obscure DIY label. But so often through the amorphous deceptive fug of nostalgia, we often forget how utterly frustrating, and for the indie music kid, how commonplace situations like this where. Essentially if it wasn’t chart or mainstream it was hit or miss whether you could actually procure a physical copy in person, even from specialist shops like Probe. It became a bit of an obsession, and like Jason in search of the golden fleece, or Jake and Elwood Blues on their mission from God, I pursued the object of my desire relentlessly for two weeks. And failed. Eventually, I used dreary old mail order to get the CD single (which I still have below, hurrah!) So if I’d have been offered streaming or an instant download back then I would have bitten your hand off. And perhaps gifted you an arm and a leg.
Of course, waiting for a couple of weeks to get my mitts on new Belly music pales into insignificance when I heard the news last year, that Belly were looking to release their first full album in 23 years. Wow, 23 years! That’s actually slower than ‘Kevin Shields time’ ie/ longer than MBV took to follow up ‘Loveless.’ But hey, I’m just grateful that they are back and that their new release ‘Shiny One’ sounds so bloody good, so fresh and vital. A perfect Belly tune in fact, and one that seamlessly arches back through time to touch fingers with their past work, but very much belongs in the here and the now. And as a fan, it’s pretty much everything I could have hoped for and more, all spiralling guitars, atmospheric synths replete with a glorious heart bursting melody and chorus (I’m feeling a little emotional here now.) This not just a wonderful return but a song that is up there with the very best the band have produced. I guess you never lose it 😉
Belly formed in 1991, with Tanya Donelly, ( who of course co-founded Throwing Muses with her stepsister Kristin Hersh – on guitar and vocals), alongside Tom Gorman (guitar), Chris Gorman (drums), and Gail Greenwood (bass) After two critically acclaimed albums the band kind of dissolved in 1996 and went their separate ways to work on their own creative projects but they stayed in touch. The idea of a Belly reunion gained serious traction just a few years ago. In 2016 Tanya told the Guardian it was a “now or never” situation. You can also read a great interview with Tanya from our favourite laconic Mancunian, Dave over at Even The Stars here
“We had just gotten to the point where we were just missing each other, and missing the music,” says Donelly. “The music I’ve been doing in the past several years has been very collaborative, which made me kind of homesick for Belly; I missed that sense of having a band.”
Ahead of the new album ‘Dove’ which arrives on 4th May they band have just released a video which was co-directed by drummer Chris Gorman who describes the process thus :
I purchased a crow mask from Archie McFee a few years ago for a Halloween party that had an “enchanted forest” theme. I’m a lazy and dull human being so I just wore the mask and street clothes. In the party photos, everyone looked magical and “enchanted” but I looked disturbing and wrong. I always wanted to do something with that.
When it became clear that we were calling the album DOVE and the suggestion that we produce our own video the masks were my first and only idea. I sent a brief pitch to the band saying “hey guys, what if we shoot a video and we all have bird heads?” The response was overwhelmingly affirmative. I purchased 3 more heads.
Due to scheduling I had to shoot each band member on their own – we used my garage as a studio space and the woods around my home for the ‘critter in the woods’ stuff and tree related b-roll.
I worked very closely with my good friend Jack McKenna as we processed the clips and together we arrived at an Andy Warhol layered silkscreen look that really seemed to match the hallucinogenic vibe and retro groove of the song. I have to give a ton of credit to Jack for pulling it all together. “
Belly will launch their first major tour since 1995 later this year and will play Boston Calling on May 26. “We’re all looking forward to presenting these songs in a live setting, and having the opportunity to play together again,” says Chris Gorman. “We should be in for a really exciting year.”
DOVE is now available for pre-order and includes an instant download of “Shiny One.”
6/9: Portsmouth, UK – Wedgewood Rooms
6/10: Bristol, UK – SWX
6/11: Cardiff, UK – Glee Club
6/12: Manchester, UK – The Ritz
6/13: Leeds, UK – Beckett
6/14: Whitley Bay, UK – Playhouse
6/16: Glasgow, UK – O2ABC
6/17: Sheffield, UK – Leadmill
6/18: Nottingham, UK – Rescue Rooms
6/19: Brighton, UK – Concorde 2
6/20: London, UK – Shepherd’s Bush Empire