It shocks the rock and scientific communities to no end, but it's true. Besides originating the butter-smooth guitar licks that were as central to Queen's success as Freddie Mercury's vocal cords and unitards, Brian May is an astrophysicist. He had graduated with a bachelor of science (with honors) in physics at Imperial College London and was halfway through a PhD program (area of concentration: the velocity of space dust) when Queen blasted into a solar system all its own. May put down his thesis in favor of a guitar and didn't return to science for another three decades. He finally picked up that doctorate in May 2008. Wikipedia says an asteroid was promptly named after him: 52665 Brianmay.
A year ago this month, Billy Bellmont—namesake and auteur of defunct rock band The Bellmont—and Dan Dinning formed the loungy, acoustic, indie operation known as Bellemah. Like barnacles on a ship (or perhaps goatheads on a shoe), the band amassed seven members, then lost four, due mostly to time constraints. Now only Billy, Dan and Noelan Ramirez remain. Some days ago over coffee, Billy, Dan and I sat down for a chat. We laughed. We cried. We talked about Tom Waits. Below is a sample of our time together.
Drummer/composer John Hollenbeck admits to being a “mixtape guy.” As a kid, he’d raid his brother’s record collection to create tapes featuring a wide range of music—from symphonic works to jazz to R&B and back again.
Whether Perfect Symmetry provides instant glee or a splitting headache depends on how much you like alt.piano rock with a glob of synthesizer. If that sounds even remotely enjoyable, Perfect Symmetry is a surefire cure for the weepies. Keane is able to write lengthy ballads that don’t wear on your patience as easily as quick, punchy morning-starters. Piano is always the main course, and you never get more than a taste of drums or a sliver of guitar. Perfect Symmetry is more new-wave obsessed than Keane’s previous two releases, but it doesn’t slip into sulkiness. The group has become comfortable with its epic yet scaled-back songsmanship, and the water’s perfect if you feel like a swim. (SM)
Pale Young Gentlemen (Madison, Wis.), Small Flightless Birds and Back by October are cooler than cool this Thursday, Nov. 6, at Amped Performance Center (4200 Lomas NE). The 7 p.m. show is $5 and all-ages. (LM)