Tag Archives: Bhi Bhiman

Bhi Bhiman has both Rhythm and Reason

21 May

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Back in April of 2012 I came across a magical cover of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” done by a Sri Lankan-American folk-rock singer/songwriter named Bhi Bhiman. To say I was hooked is an understatement. Bhiman’s powerful vocals blew me away, and I spread the word about Bhiman to whoever was listening. It is now 3 years later – somehow; gosh, time moves by quickly – and Bhiman just released his new album Rhythm & Reason, which is a continued testament to how amazingly talented he is. Thus, on the heels of this release, I will make an impassioned plea to many wonderful people who read this blog consistently. Spread the word of Bhi Bhiman. Simply put, more people need to know about this voice.

Bhiman released a self-titled album to much critical fan-fare in 2012, and it featured several tracks that accentuated his deep croon and acoustic stylings. His new album is similar in its intentions: blow you away with well-written folk rock tunes that are sung with ardor and boldness. The tracks move gracefully, blues-tinged and melody-soaked; each featuring Bhiman’s unique stylings. One such song is “Moving to Brussels,” which, while itself is a classic Bhiman track, was recently provided with a humorous video with a cameo from Key & Peele star Keegan-Michael Key.

Key plays a good J.K. Simmons impression with his volatile music lesson for Bhiman. The “Whiplash”-inspired video is hilarious. It does speak for itself, so I will let it do so … play the video now! It doesn’t hurt that “Moving to Brussels” is an energetic folk hit that moves with an infectious effervescence that draws you in. Key doesn’t hurt.

And, if you need some more Bhiman convincing, here is my favorite track by the musician. It is called “Crime of Passion” and while it is not from the new album it is still worth a listen, or two, or three!

Bhi Bhiman Can Make Any Music Lover Go Crazy (in a good way)

17 Apr

Bhi Bhi "is the" man

The English lexicon is immense. When I write reviews of artists I try to enlarge my discourse in a manner that is not grandiloquent. I hate repetition in adjectives and verbs, and I love experimenting with language. Yes this makes me a word nerd (a werd), but I embrace the title. The reason I begin this new artist profile with a statement on language is because I want to introduce you all to a great word related to the artist I am profiling. It is elysium. You can swap it out with Shangri-la, Zion, Canaan, Utopia, or, simply, Heaven. Let’s say your wandering around this network we like to call the internet and you come across a taste of elysium. Well, damn, you want to share whatever it is like wildfire (or perhaps keep it all to yourself – but I learned early that sharing is caring so here you all go). The little taste of music heaven is a Sri-Lankan-American folk/blues artist named Bhi Bhiman. And Mr. Bhiman can do this.

A lot of reality television shows – specifically one that has the creator of the piece as a judge – looks for the “Voice.” So what characterizes a voice? I think that the first necessity is for it to stop you in your tracks. You can be going a mile a minute trying to complete 20 different tasks, but, for at least the first time you listen to it, the voice forces you to drop what you are doing and just listen. It is quite heavenly in its relaxation properties. Consider it like a hegira. The “voice” contains a super-rich fullness that is whole and striking. It is clear and booming. The “voice” is very difficult to come by (only some truly have it). Good news for all of you. Bhi Bhiman has the “voice.”

Listen to the power. Listen to the vebratto. Listen to the soul. I am not overexaggerating the point. Bhiman takes “Crazy” and literally destroys the song. He picks it apart (similar to how Cee Lo sings it) and destroys its contents to the point that you don’t even hear the lyric anymore, you just hear him.

Okay, you are all saying. Sure. He can cover a great song. But this is Cee Lo. What about his original stuff? How does his voice work when you get him to perform some of his own songs? I’ve got some more good news.

Bhiman’s solo material is like what would happen if you combined the folky goodness of a David Bromberg/Tim Buckley with the southern soul of Otis Redding and then mixed in some good ol’fashioned early blues. Put all of that in a blender and turn the blender on puree. Ta Dah. Bhi Bhiman. His songs range from a humorous folk originality to sagacious note-shattering fosoblu (folk/soul/blues). Let’s start with the former.

Kimchee (kimchi) is a Korean fermented vegetable dish and Bhiman in “Kimchee Line” takes a pretty tradition blues riff and, well, sings about kimchi as if it is a vegetable train (sort of).

“Well I went up on the mountain
To see if I could fly
Went down to the sea, lord
And the sea was dry
So I picked a pickled pepper
From the Leader’s Tree
I got some prawn and oysters
For the Vitamin E

I’m on the kimchee line
Its radish time”

It is cheeky humor, a funny mix of traditional blues and a true eat your vegetables message. Bhiman is efficient on the acoustic guitar, lightly plucking the rhythm that guides the song. His voice clearly shines (like it does in all of his songs) and, don’t forget, it’s “cucumber time”

Included here is the full version of “Guttersnipe,” loaded with the excellent bass of Ben Tudor, moving percussion of Gabe Turow, and effective key-work by Sam Kassirer. The itenerant song features a simple chord progression that helps accentuate Bhiman’s croon. A guttersnipe is a street urchin (which Bhiman pays ode to in the song). The chorus of the song is just Bhiman demonstrating his fantastic chops to the listener. His drop down from his vocal limits back to his comfort zone is so difficult and done to such perfection. At around 4:15 the song darkens and you feel for the poor guttersnipe that Bhiman sings of. You feel the song and that is incredibly important to success. Bhiman is a modern troubador, a true “voice,” and one that you should keep an eye on for this point on.

Tour Dates:

Thursday 4/19 – Bowery Ballroom – New York City
Show @ 9PM sharp

Friday 5/4 – Oberlin Folk Festival – Oberlin, OH

Saturday 5/5 – Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL
Show @ 8:30PM

Saturday 6/9 – The Independent – San Francisco, CA
Show @ 8PM

Sunday 6/17 – Clearwater Festival – Hudson, NY

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