Album: Burning Sensations EP.
In the year or so before Fresno’s indie scene well and truly exploded, one of the most popular bands around were a new wave cover band called Aqua Bob. Made up of a bunch of terrific musicians – many of whom I had weird connections with outside of the music scene (because Fresno) – Aqua Bob had no interest beyond entertaining whomever happened to show up to wherever they were playing that particular night, and so their song selection tended to be energetic and danceable.
Which was fine, but it meant that I loved some of the songs they played, while others … not so much. For example, when they played Oingo Boingo, it was time for me to go get another beer, but when they played XTC it was time to put that beer down and sing along.
And when they played “Belly of the Whale,” it was time to get on the dance floor. Because the calypso-flavored “Belly of the Whale” is quintessential California new wave.
Yes, it’s filled with weird instruments that probably shouldn’t be there – like that synth that is probably supposed to represent a whale’s cry – and features a weird meandering sax solo in the middle, but when the calypso restraint of the verses shift gears into the high-powered, insanely catchy chorus, it’s pop music dynamics 101. And I’m singing:
I feel like Jonah in the belly of the whale
And Burning Sensations knew it as well: that’s why the the music of the final chorus starts, but they play a few measures before the singing comes in. It’s a tease, and an acknowledgement that we all want to sing along with that chorus one last time.
Music video for “Belly of the Whale”
My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist: