Saint Bell has been playing together for just over six months, but in that short time they have managed to build enough buzz to headline Gasa Gasa following the Freret Street Festival this Saturday. So how does a fresh young band manage to snag a post-festival slot at one of the hottest clubs in town? Well it doesn’t hurt when that show is celebrating the release of one of the most exciting, innovative records to come out of the city in quite some time.
“We’ve been working on this album for about a year-and-a-half and we’re really excited to finally put it out,” says Jeremy Phipps, creative force and frontman for Saint Bell. After recording Saint Bell’s debut EP with Phipps handling vocals, keys, drums, and horn duties, the young artist expanded the lineup for the new album, Cold Cold Wind.
“Sometimes it’s hard to explain to people what you’re going for, but I like having other people involved. I can’t play strings, so I was finally able to add that sound to my music.”
With an extensive sonic palette at his disposal, Phipps crafted a gorgeous record that recalls the lush orchestrations of Sufjan Stevens, while retaining the playful nature of electro-pop.
But for an album filled with hand claps and major key electronics, there’s a consistent focus on the darker side in the face of life’s joyousness. On album opener “Sacrifice,” Phipps pleads “Tell the reaper to keep resting, til I fertilize the soil beneath” atop a groove-heavy patchwork of horns, synthesizer, and guitar.
“When I wrote the songs, I was thinking about a lot of morbid things, but I wanted to bring it full circle so it was more positive than depressing.” Phipps’ ruminations on life, death, and rebirth carry a narrative arc throughout the album, culminating with the revelation “My eyes are clear temporarily, and now I see,” as the varied electro-landscapes keep the journey fresh and engaging.
The show at Gasa Gasa will feature Saint Bell’s largest lineup to date, including a female vocalist, new guitarist, and Phipps juggling trombone, keyboard, guitar, and vocals. “We’re really excited because Gasa Gasa has such great sound, and we’ve been needing a venue like that in New Orleans.” And although Saint Bell has the top spot, the other artists on the bill for Saturday could easily blow out Gasa Gasa on their own. Local power trio Bantam Foxes kick off the night with their indie rock that shakes like a great lost 90s band, while DJ Quickie Mart spins late into the night with booty shakin’ jams that sample New Orleans brass and classic hip hop in equal measure.
If that’s not enough, Phipps promises the band will bust out some orchestrated dance moves they have been working on just for this show. And hey, who wouldn’t bust a move after the completion of an 18 month project, especially when it turned out so perfect as Cold Cold Wind?
If you go:
Saint Bell w/ Bantam Foxes and Quickie Mart at Gasa Gasa (4920 Freret St.)
Saturday (4/5) 9 PM; $7 cover