Turns out Portland folk-rockers The Bellboys have more in common with the influential '50s vocal band Frankie Bell and the Bellboys than just the name. Stylistically, there's not much to hold the two together aside from their mutual reliance on male vocal harmonies. Instead, the connection is based more in tone: The two acts share an underlying exuberance that drives their music forward.
In I'll Be Here All Night, members of The Bellboys don't generate any surprises with their folk-rock arrangements, but it's all very proficiently done. Muscular acoustic strumming sets the foundation for intricate-yet-restrained lead guitar work. The occasional snaking harmonica riffs and banjo or mandolin plucking provide welcome accents.
Sure, the album's lyrical content isn't all sunshine and daisies. The 11 tracks are your standard odes to love, heartbreak, romantic futility and the need for liberation. But even the more defeated numbers strike me as somehow-I'll-find-the-strength-to-move-on setback songs rather than the suicide notes set to music that populate many albums. It's the kind of album best appreciated with an accompanying porch, sunset and glass of spiked cider. It's reliable folk, which can bring a little summer back into the cold, snowy nights.
The Bellboys plays the Top Hat Thursday, Dec. 2, at 10 PM, with The Villains. Cover TBA.