THE WHISTLES AND THE BELLS
“I wanted to make a record that sounded like some great cosmic dinner party,” explains Bryan Simpson (aka The Whistles & The Bells) of his sophomore release Modern Plagues, to be released by New West Records this Spring. These 11 expansive tracks find the singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist delivering lyrical insights and audacious verbal imagery, while displaying a sonic sensibility that draws from a multitude of genres and textures.
Collaborations with The Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson resulted in such out-of-the-box tunes as "Harry Potter," "Small Time Criminals," and "Zombie Heartz,” where their lyrics and compelling soundscapes mix to create a singular, personally-charged vision of organized chaos.
Simpson's route to Modern Plagues has been an unconventional one. Prior to launching The Whistles & The Bells, he had already won substantial success as a Bluegrass mandolinist, serving a seven-year, three-album stint with the acclaimed progressive-bluegrass quartet Cadillac Sky. That group was broad-minded enough to collaborate with both Bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs and The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, which eventually led to an in-demand spot on Mumford and Sons’ 2010 North American Tour. Meanwhile, Simpson also carved out a lucrative sideline as a mainstream Country songwriter, composing hit tunes for the likes of Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and George Strait.
With those achievements under his belt, a long-gestating musical and spiritual awakening pushed Simpson in a more iconoclastic direction, resulting in The Whistles & The Bells' independently released self-titled 2014 debut. The album was a favorite of such notable outlets as Rolling Stone and American Songwriter.