Daydream Nation: Bella Vendetta (Elephant Stone Records, 2004)

by Brent

Daydream Nation Bella VendettaEveryone needs a few good Brit-Rock CD’s in their collection, and if Oasis’ latest releases are leaving you a little depressed, look no further than Daydream Nation’s recent release, Bella Vendetta. While most of the Bella Vendetta teeters on the subtler, more sensitive and atmospheric side of Brit-Rock, Daydream Nation also shows their rock chops are in fine fashion with a number of more aggressive, uptempo songs. In fact Bella Vendetta is so polished, and sounds so authentically British, that it might come as a surprise that Daydream Nation actually hails from Canada (Ottawa, to be exact), and that the band has never had a major breakthrough anywhere in the world in terms of radio play or record sales. Of course, the lack of airplay that a CD like Bella Vendetta garners is to the detriment of music listeners everywhere, because Daydream Nation plays an enjoyable and endearing brand of music that is accessible while not losing its underground feel.

Bella Vendetta begins with the great opening rock number “Neon”, which features a catchy melody, driving guitars, and a dose of sneering attitude. “Neon” is a clear example of the mid-90’s Brit-rock sound that Daydream Nation plays, reinterpreted for the 2000’s. The song is a great introduction to Daydream Nation’s liquid guitar lines and the understated vocal delivery of lead singer Pat Vaz. The thunderous “The Everlasting” follows with a pulsating rhythm and a display of all-around attitude of swagger from the band. As on the whole of Bella Vendetta, Vaz’s vocals are never over-strained or forced. Rather, he comfortably sings melodies well-suited to his high baritone range, and carefully sticks to his strength in delivering subtle nuances in his singing. Another quick rocker of a song in “A New Dawn” has the band seething and posturing all over the track, while never overdoing their attitude to the point of cheesiness. The ability to convey rock attitude in a nearly reckless way gives Daydream Nation a strong measure of legitimacy. But, just when the band, whose sound on the first three songs sounded like a cross between the retro-rock of The Soundtrack of Our Lives and mid-90’s Brit-Rock, turns on its head for “A Passing Notion” (and indeed for the rest of the CD). On “A Passing Notion”, Daydream Nation plays a lush-sounding and slower brand of their rock, incorporating keys and a sensitivity not present on the previous tracks. On this song, and the ones following it, I am reminded of a more toned down Oasis, as the songs retain their Brit-Rock influence while being expansive and contemplative. After a delicious 6+ minutes, the smooth “A Passing Notion” fades, and “Stop the Clocks” begins with a similar vibe (though sounding a tad more aggressive with busy drumming by Hunter Crowley. Droning guitar sounds accompany the strong melodies on this track, and while the sneering attitude of the previous songs is largely absent, the band still retains their confidence and musical sensitivity. The title song is a short acoustic number accompanied by bells and distant affected guitar lines, with a memorable melody and a repeating line of “I’m alright”. Despite the brevity and relative simplicity of the song, it still resonates as a highpoint on Bella Vendetta. The radio-ready “Satellites” follows with another likeable melody and solid playing by the band. With slide guitars, a slower tempo, and layers of guitars, “Oceans” indeed conjures up mental images of gentle waves and sea breezes. The whole track sways gently under the beautiful songwriting and layers of sound. “Runaway” is another slower, gentler song that is expertly written and played, and “Untitled” rounds out Bella Vendetta with another softer song that has an appealing melody and an overall lusher vibe.

Bella Vendetta is the sound of an experienced rock band who has taken the time to craft excellent songs and drape them in perfect instrumentation. Daydream Nation has the poise and confidence of rock veterans, and yet are able to still write fresh-sounding songs. While the Brit-Rock vibe of many of the songs may sound dated to some ears, a careful listen to Bella Vendetta will reveal a collection of 10 high quality songs that would be at home on any decent radio station. Hopefully this solid release will give Daydream Nation the attention they certainly deserve.

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