May 2014’s album is Honcho Dreams by Be Calm Honcho (an odd name, but it works.) Their sound has a surf rock, jam band feel to it. Each song is carefully constructed, which I appreciate. There’s obvious talent, creativity, and intention.
The album opens with an energetic, jolting riff—the repeating phrase in “Always My Fault.” I think this track in particular exemplifies the band’s overall sound: there’s a rolling, echoing guitar that sounds right out of a Grateful Dead concert; cymbal-heavy drums that simultaneously give the impression of rock and jazz; and then there’s this beautiful, quiet hook that emphasizes the vocals with instrumentation that I can’t even begin to pull apart, it’s so subtle.
The rest of the album contains other such moments of unobtrusive loveliness: most of the second track “Be Brave,” the beginning of “Go Outside,” numerous select moments from the first track on the B-side “Jacob’s Revenge.” Moments like that, I expected, but I was surprised by several instances of spoken word. First, in “I Love CA,” (one of two obvious love songs to the Golden State that the group calls home) and then again in “Mean Pack,” which is essentially all melodic spoken word. It’s interesting, it’s unexpected, and it works.
I have to say that, while each musician is obviously very skilled and talented (honestly), what catches my attention most is I the singer’s voice. According to the usual introductory letter that accompanies each record, her name is Shannon Harney and her sound has been compared to Fiona Apple and Joanna Newsom, apt comparisons in my opinion. Her voice is breathy, but with a powerful, warbling edge that says she’s someone not to be trifled with. She has a sultriness that makes me think of jazz lounge singers, yet with a beachy overtone.
The vinyl is a delightful, translucent bubblegum pink that is perfect for the equally vibrant…uh…critter on the cover and the palm tree on the back. It’s a bit too pale and purplish to be “Vermilion Tendencies” I think, but that’s just me being nitpicky about pigment. The record is simply stunning and perfectly suits the music it holds.
Honcho Dreams by Be Calm Honcho is available for purchase in 180g Vermilion Tendencies (shown here) and standard weight black at feedbands.com/store.