From: Durham/Chapel Hill, NC
Sound: You got intricately arranged indie-pop in my playfully literate lyrics! You got playfully literate lyrics in my intricately arranged indie-pop!
Similar Artists: Danielson, Vampire Weekend, Ben Folds, Sufjan Stevens, Jonathan Richman
Listen Now: "Julian of Norwich"
"the record is a collection of stories
that spans our three years together as a band
i like to think of the record as a coloring book
some of the songs are color by numbers
some are black and white
some you probably dont have to color on
at all" - from my inbox, April 7th, 2008
As if anticipating our mild obsession with synesthesia by an impressive 10 days, Bombadil piqued our curiosity with the above simple (yet cryptic) introduction last week. And insisting on sending said record via snail mail as opposed to a few straggling compressed MP3s, the Durham quartet were making a statement: coloring books, physical album copies, all tangible and tactile, all substantive and worth our time.
And with the arrival of their full-length debut A Buzz, A Buzz on Monday (and out 4/29 on Ramseur Records), I have to agree with them: this is worth your time.
A hand-written note accompanied the album, scrawled on the back of a comic strip and telling us that we had to supply our own crayons in coloring the album. Were this actually a possibility (and still trying to will myself a synesthetic perhaps?), it made me wonder what colors I might have chosen do so.
Probably every single crayon possible...
A splash of yellow to capture the group's upbeat and exquisite harmonies, scribbled over with a burnt sienna to show the depth and muscularity (read: the absence of fey or twee-ness) within these harmonies. A midnight blue to suggest the depth and emotive range behind such clever passages as "sing all alone, singing's just talking in tones, rhymestones, and get off your cellphones because they're tracking you home, skin and bones all alone" (from "Smile When You Kiss"); perhaps a brown and green combo for the earthy acoustic guitars and plaintive vocals that anchor the entire song cycle? True, the end result would certainly resemble the child-scribble fridge-art most likely found in this woman's home, but Bombadil make all these elements work with a fluid grace, in the process sculpting 11 pitch-perfect pop songs that sound even better as a cohesive whole.
Named after a character from The Lord of the Rings, Bombadil first came together three years ago in Bolivia, where Duke alums Daniel Michalak and Bryan Rahija first met and began collaborating on songs (John Michalak and Stuart Robinson would soon round out the band). According to their label's website:
The folk music indigenous to the region lit a creative spark and inspired the two to begin writing songs that incorporated international instruments and styles. That influence, paired with their collective backgrounds in Piedmont blues, psychedelic rock and Robinson’s background as a classical pianist, stands as the driving force behind the band’s unique sound.
Add to this description bouts of circus-like melodies fresh from the Disney Main Street Electrical Parade, spurting woodwinds, traditional American folk, vaudeville, inventively off-kilter percussion bursts, and tribal call-and-response vocals and you begin to get the idea. Like I said, this album takes on every color in the Crayola box.
Of course, a smattering of sounds so disparate could prove disastrous if not utilized in proper doses, and perhaps the band's biggest strength throughout A Buzz, A Buzz lies in their wonderful arrangements and instrumentation. Though it is a "big" sounding album, it never feels overburdened or crowded; instead, every piece works and services the broader song. Listen, for example, to "Julian of Norwich", a perfectly constructed pop song that manages to shake any initial likeness to Vampire Weekend's "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" by multiplying the infectious central melody through layers of fife, Colonial Williamsburg marching drums, cascading banjo, nimble grand piano arpeggios, clattering sea shells (?) and at least a dozen other elements.
Currently touring in support of A Buzz, A Buzz's forthcoming release, Bombadil's immense talent and promise leaves me believing that they really couldn't have come up with a more appropriate and prescient title for their debut (well, except for maybe Synesthesia).
"Julian of Norwich"
"Smile When You Kiss"
See Bombadil Live:
23 April - Nashville, TN @ Exit/In
24 April - Johnson City, TN @ The Acoustic Coffeehouse - CD Release
25 April - The Triangle, NC @ 91.5 WUNC's The State of Things
25 April - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle - CD Release
27 April - Decatur, GA @ Eddie's Attic
29 April - Raleigh, NC @ Schoolkids Records - In-store Performance
30 April - Charlotte, NC @ Fox News Rising WCCB TV 18
30 April - Charlotte, NC @ Manifest Disc - In-store Performance
01 May - Greenville, SC @ Horizon Records - In-store Performance
02 May - Knoxville, TN @ Disc Exchange - In-store Performance
07 May - Baltimore, MD @ Baltimore Chop Shop
08 May - Charlottesville, VA @ Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
09 May - Easton, MD @ Coffee East
10 May - Washington D.C. @ The Red & Black
11 May - Pittsburgh, PA @ Garfield Artworks
14 May - Grand Rapids, MI @ The Wealthy Theatre
15 May - Columbus, OH @ Rumba Cafe
16 May - Bristol, TN @ Border Bash
17 May - Knoxville, TN @ Time Warp Tea Room
24 May - York, SC @ Sylvia Theater
29 May - Kansas City, MO @ Knucklehead's
31 May - Denver, CO @ Dulcinea's 100th Monkey
04 Jun - Bend, OR @ Old St. Francis School
05 June - Troutdale, OR @ Edgefield
06 June - McMinnville, OR @ Hotel Oregon
07 June - Gearhart, OR @ McMenamins Sand Trap
10 June - Centralia, WA @ Olympic Club Hotel and Theater
12 June - Portland, OR @ Kennedy School
13 June - Forest Grove, OR @ Grand Lodge
15 June - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
20 June - Charlotte, NC @ Snug Harbor
21 June - Winston-Salem, NC @ Summer On Trade
27 June - Boone, NC @ Private Party
28 June - Boone, NC @ Private Party
5 July - Chestertown, MD @ Andy's
10 July - New London, CT @ The Oasis Pub
11 July - Burlington, VT @ TBA
26 July - Floyd, VA @ FloydFest
28 July - Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot Music Hall
01 Aug - Portland, OR @ Pickathon
02 Aug - Portland, OR @ Pickathon
07 Aug - Cottage Grove, OR @ Axe and Fiddle Pub and Music Club
29 Aug - Boone, NC @ Black Cat
12 Sep - Mount Pleasant, SC @ Fiery Ron's Hometown BBQ
19 Sep - Bristol, VA @ Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
20 Sep - Bristol, VA @ Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion
17 Jan - Riverside, CA @ Private Party
Visit Bombadil on MySpace
In the recent past, the following bands have been featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week:
Tapes 'n Tapes
Hey Hey My My
See the entire list of bands featured as EAR FARM's Band of the Week HERE.
23 April 2008