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Music In Mouth
Artist: Bell X1 
Label: Island - 2003 
Length: 50 minutes
Dublin is a very rich seam of quality music just now. There is hardly a better live act anywhere than The Frames and boy did they prove that in their live album Set List, The Thrills are invading the radio and scaling the charts with So Much For The City and Damien Rice, the guy these guys used to be in a band with, has slowly crept from his bedroom to Letterman. And we havent even mentioned U2 and The Corrs! 

In the midst of all that and a whole lot more appear Bell X1 with a “Radiohead as Radiohead should sound” sales pitch. Though it has come with less fan fare, chart positions or gold discs, it is probably artistically the most satisfying work of the lot. Yes, you can see why the lazy listener or the publicity department might name check Oxfords finest instead of The Frames' For the Birds album which is probably a better comparison but though there are echoes of Radiohead in "Eve, the Apple of My Eye" in its climactic crescendos, the brass give it its own twist. "Alphabet Soup" has the more avant garde Radiohead hypnotic groove without being so avant garde! It is always indeed more organic Irish.

The pop, the acoustic ballad, the piano ballad, the rock out, Bell X1 have left all kinds of roads open and there are so many more musical turns and twists to their music and lyrics in an album jam packed full of fascinating songs and deep rich seams. Songs of love and loss and living and dying are full of wonderfully original images, crafted poetry and frequently laced with comic couplets. I cannot remember anyone using witticisms so seamlessly so often and the use of humor in serious rock music is usually a step away from novelty act is another mark of the talent that is Bell X1. 

Steve Stockman  1/25/2004

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has just finished a book on U2, Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2, is the poetic half of Stevenson and Samuel who have just released their debut album Gracenotes, and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine
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