The Red, White & Black includes the other 61 colors of The Bellrays' sound.

The Bellrays

What besides the electric guitar, in nature or technology, can sound so much like flatulence and also sound so beautiful? Only a few guitarists -- Keith Richards, Johnny Ramone -- can make you wonder such a thing. The cover story of the latest from the Bellrays -- the Riverside, California, foursome with the chutzpah to launch themselves with the slogan "Maximum Punk 'n' Soul" and then bellyache when they're pigeonholed -- is that Tony Fate proves himself a guitar hero. The style is all his own, though not without references. It's somewhere on the messiest part of a plate piled with Ramones meat, sweet Stax potatoes and a spacy aftertaste where the wine spilled in (also an apt description of the overall sound of the band). And Fate's triumph isn't the only news here: On the band's fifth album -- and the best rock album of the young year -- the anger is more articulate, the compassion warmer, the tunes catchier. The Bellrays do one rare thing, better and better.


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