I first heard Bell X1 while listening to RTE online one day. RTE is an Irish broadcaster, and thanks to their online streaming, I can sometimes find out what's different in music in the UK and Ireland that we might be missing out on in the States. These guys are a prime example.
The first song I heard was "Bad Skin Day", off their third album, Flock. I had never heard anything quite like it. It was sort of alternative rock slash alt pop slash.....I wasn't even sure what else. But I knew I had to hear more.
Who is Bell X1?
Bell X1 is a band that's enjoyed success in Ireland for a few albums now, but who haven't quite broken in the US. (Shame on us). Originally a band called Juniper which was fronted by Damien Rice, Bell X1 has evolved with a slightly different sound each album. After Damien Rice's departure, Juniper's remaining members moved on, renaming the band after the first plane to break the sound barrier- the Bell X1. The band had some further shakeups with the departures and additions of band members until reaching its current iteration: Frontman Paul Noonan, Lead guitar David Geraghty, and bassist Dominic Philips.
Bell X1's first album release (as Bell X1) was Neither Am I in 2000 (with songs written with Damien Rice); Music in Mouth 2003; Flock in 2005; Tour de Flock (a live album) in 2007; Blue Lights on the Runway in 2009; and in April of this year they released their sixth album, Bloodless Coup, which I have written about extensively here. And here. And here. And here. And here.
My first suggestion is to start with Bad Skin Day (above). This is what got me initially hooked and made me want to know more. From there, begin with some songs from Blue Lights on the Runway. Blue Lights has a sound unique from their other albums, and unique to anything else I've heard in this genre of music. Its pop-py but with melancholy and electronic undertones, making for quite a unique juxtaposition of music and lyrics.
The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella
Light Catches Your Face
One Stringed Harp
Next, check out Music in Mouth which has the lovely song Eve, the Apple of my Eye
Off of Flock I suggest Rocky Took a Lover, one of my favorite Bell X1 songs, mostly because of the back story. Paul Noonan, the lead singer, had a homeless man living behind his home in the Dublin area. The man had once been a boxer, and thus was nicknamed "Rocky". The homeless man (Rocky) occasionally had a lady friend with him (took a lover) and this is the conversation Paul imagined they'd have, with lyrics like, "If there was a God, then why is my arse the perfect height for kicking?"
Rocky Took a Lover (for album/studio version click HERE)
Paul Noonan explaining Rocky Took a Lover
Bell X1 released their sixth album this spring, Bloodless Coup which has some great tracks like Velcro, and Nightwatchmen.
While Bell X1 is by no means a new band, and their music is by no means new music (aside from the new album), they haven't yet enjoyed any kind of massive exposure in the US. But there is something to be said for discovering new-to-you music- there is an entire back catalogue to enjoy and discover.
Especially with Bell X1.