Singer Giovanna Cacciola and her husband, guitarist Agostino Tilotta, formerly of a Sicilian rock band called Uzeda, along with Alexis Fleisig (of Girls Against Boys) on drums and Matthew Taylor on bass, comprise Bellini, a very American-sounding Italian band. Granted, only Cacciola and Tilotta are Sicilian, but Bellini manage a Fugazi aesthetic with a Minutemen start/stop approach. Veering between loose, minor key creepiness ("Room Number Five") and locked-in droning rhythms ("Fuck the Mobile Phone"), Small Stones, which was recorded by Steve Albini, has that Albini crunch with its three-piece minimal edge.
Tilotta's guitar dominates the songs; his Guy Picciotto-esque melody lines and Mike Watt-esque song structures are what save Small Stones from Cacciola's uninteresting vocals, which add nothing to the songs. At times, the songs would do better without her vocals at all. One finds oneself listening solely to the way Fleisig's drums play off the guitar (not too loud, just the right amount of cymbal) and ignoring the vocals completely, to the point that the same guitar sound employed by Tilotta gets old by the end of the album; the lyrics, whatever they may be, are lost amid the crunch and high hat. Small Stones, like an expanse of graveled front yard on Tucson's eastside, is economical, although there are some pebbles that keep finding their way onto the sidewalk or inside one's shoes.