The Whistles & the Bells – alt-rock moniker of acclaimed singer, songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Bryan Simpson – has revealed a “dark but beautifully poetic” new single, “Ode To Yeezus / Ultralight Beam,” which EARMILK is premiering today. They call the track “a somber tune that blurs the line between songwriter and mad-man producer,” and state, "Simpson takes a very real moment in Kanye West’s life to create a sonic reflection on the current state of this social media/often shallow world we're living in...It's an evocative look at how too often we forget that artists, like Kanye, are real people with human struggles and that their personal battles aren't just catchy headlines to them," adding, “Be sure to turn the lights down, put these songs on and sip a glass of red wine because that is the best way to enjoy this beautiful, strange magic." Listen HERE. “Ode To Yeezus / Ultralight Beam” is available everywhere digitally. In celebration of the new single, The Whistles & the Bells will play a hometown show in Nashville, TN at Mercy Lounge on February 3 with tickets on sale now.
“Ode To Yeezus / Ultralight Beam” follows The Whistles & the Bells’ sophomore LP Modern Plagues that released last Spring on New West Records. The album has gained considerable critical praise with the Associated Press calling it a “winner” in a must-read comprehensive review that states, “This is the sound of freedom...Simpson's enormous toolbox includes tuba and harp, big drums and a flute solo, hip-hop, klezmer, topical lyrics and wordless ‘la-la-la's.’ An EDM groove propels ‘Zombie Heartz,’ while a fat bass steers ‘Year of the Freak Out’ toward classic R&B. A synthesizer echoes Simpson's vocal on ‘Good Drugs,’ and ‘Small Time Criminals’ connects the French Quarter with Appalachia. These aren't just random whistles and bells. Hooks abound, tying the cornucopia of noise together, and Simpson's social commentary provides further glue.” AllMusic adds, “That Simpson can keep so many disparate balls in the air (chamber pop, Americana, progressive folk, electro-soul, etc.) is impressive enough, but that he can make so much of that chaos compelling is the real trick.” Collaborations on Modern Plagues include co-writes with The Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson that resulted in such out-of-the-box tunes as the lead single “Harry Potter,” which premiered at American Songwriter with the initial announcement of Modern Plagues. Of the song, they state, “A retro pop tune with strong ’80s influences, the video for this track feels like something you would see a teenage Molly Ringwald starring in. Sung from the perspective of a teenage girl, ‘Harry Potter’ highlights what many young adults long for but unfortunately cannot find as they grow older: childhood innocence and simplicity.” View/share the Joshua Shoemaker-produced video HERE. Additionally, The Huffington Post revealed the “inventive” music video for album track “Good Drugs” praising, “[Simpson’s] original off-the-wall undertakings are reminiscent of the whimsical and whip-smart work by David Byrne, Jim James and the Decemberists’ Colin Meloy.” View/share the Neighborhoods Apart-produced video HERE.
Co-produced by Simpson and engineer Eddie Spear (Judah & the Lion, Lake Street Dive, Rival Sons), Modern Plagues’ 11 expansive tracks find Simpson delivering eye-opening lyrical insights and audacious verbal imagery, while displaying a freewheeling sonic sensibility that draws inspiration from a bottomless well of genres and textures. The album follows The Whistles & the Bells’ 2014 self-titled debut, which gained an impressive amount of acclaim as an indie release and led to a larger re-release and record deal with New West Records. Prior to launching The Whistles & the Bells, Simpson had already won substantial success as a bluegrass mandolinist, serving a seven-year, three-album stint with the acclaimed progressive-bluegrass quartet Cadillac Sky. The band’s broad-minded collaborations with both bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach eventually led to an in-demand spot on Mumford and Sons’ 2010 North American Tour. Meanwhile, Simpson also carved out a successful sideline as a mainstream country songwriter, composing hit for icons such as Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, and George Strait.