Take a step into serenity mixed with melancholic happiness when you take a listen to Bonomo. Phases characterizes an individual’s journey and meaning of home, memories, and self. Comparing to the lovely sounds of Copeland and Iron & Wine, Bonomo crafts an exemplary sound within his album that’s on the path of evolving, filled with humility and authenticity. The duo characterizes alternative folk with a new sound in the album Phases. Their lead single Water, really shows this unique sound by the effective uses of the variety of instruments in their sound. Think Devendra Banhart meets John Mayer and you have Bonomo. Although two different genres, a mix of such sounds proves auditory greatness.
Presenting the track Doors off of the soon to be released EP Violet, with upbeat and synthetic sounds, listeners are brought into an atmospheric world of Digit + Stas. Continuing the synthetic sound, the acoustics of Digit + Sound are also paired with symphonic undertones. When reflecting on how one would place Digit+ Stas’s sound, it falls halfway between the spectrum of Lana del Rey and the dark side of Sia. Nastasia Avrutin delivers her strong vocals throughout the duration of the track, clearly showing the emotion and tone within her music. With an eclectic background working in the environments where musicians come to perform in Brooklyn, one can infer that Nastasia has been continuously creatively inspired.
Dorothy has run away with a Brooklyn-based four-piece into the blue Kentucky rain. It sounds like a mix between a pastoral film about America’s heartland and a horror movie. But don’t worry, there is nothing horrible about Runaway Dorothy; on the contrary, this band, which has already been featured on a variety of TV, Internet, and Print outlets, successfully melds a bucolic snapshot of America with Northeastern edginess. Runaway Dorothy tugs at the heartstrings of Americana, and much like The Avett Brothers, connects southern folk and country together effortlessly.
Runaway Dorothy is the pet project of Dave Parnell, who, after playing guitar for a showcasing rock band, chose to pursue his own tunes. After moving to Brooklyn, Parnell enlisted the permanent support of his brother Brett “Bert” Parnell (electric guitar), Sam “The Reverend” Gallo (bass), and Evan Mitchell (drums), who aided in the release of the band’s first album, The Wait, in February of this year. The album, a skillful take on classic folk harmonies and subdued country, plays like a potent combination of The Head and the Heart and The Everybodyfields. All of the flowery language and comparisons aside, the album is worth a listen … or two or three.
How can we best showcase the band? Well, let’s take a look at two of its hits – one more country and one more folk. First up, a trip into the “Blue Kentucky Rain” for a little slow-dance Country/Americana; more simply put, a ballad.
A melancholy acoustic guitar strums in the background of Dave Parnell’s smooth, clean croon. There are no rough edges to his voice; he draws out notes effortlessly and with the precision of a professional (which he is). The dulcet harmonies in the chorus help carry out a lugubrious guitar riff of the song’s primary melody. The song is a bit of a lamentation and/or an entreaty. Parnell plays the part exceptionally well; his vocal a testament to desperation mixed with some hope. And the Springsteen-esque harmonica is spot on.
“Sing With Me” has more hop to its step. I love the rhythm of this song. It fulfills all one wants in a song. There is neat harmony when there should be neat harmony. The acoustic guitar is apt, and the lyric falls off the tongue of Dave Parnell with tenderness and ease. The song is just a joy to listen to.
In a way it is rather fitting that Quintus is named, well, Quintus. For all of you up on your Latin, Quintus means fifth. It took five years of recordings and the near death of the band before Quintus was able to piece together their first full-length compilation and follow-up to their 2006 EP The Shape We’re In. Was it worth the wait? Absolutely.
Back in 2006, Levon Helm produced Quintus’ EP The Shape We’re In and called the band one of his favorite new acts. The upbeat, country/folk album recorded in Levon Helm’s Woodstock barn, was never officially released because of a dispute with Downtown Records, the band’s label at the time, which was a shame because the album deserved to garner more ears than it did. Helm lauded the band’s maturity, and that attribute is evident in the tracks, all neatly developed, catchy, and exciting. The fire should have been warmed on Quintus, but it wasn’t.
Fast forward some years later, and I am writing to introduce the aptly titled Start All Over Again, which I hope is the beginning of a long career for the talented band led by producer, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist Reuben Chess. The 11-track album does not have a dud, which is difficult enough to accomplish. Every song has its own flavor, some touching on the Country elements of their first release and others toying with a folk-inspired poppy Indie rock that combines horns and acoustic instrumentation with old-fashioned rock n’ roll beats. They are a throwback making modern music. There is an inherent contradiction in that statement, but I don’t hear it.
“Just the Same” is a good example of what I just mentioned. The song’s sprightly rhythm combines with Chess record piano (what a coincidence – much in the vein of Lafayette Leake) and even a taste of Travelling Wilburys. Chess even adds in Buddy Holly’s trademark late 50s stutter. The horns are added delicately and fall behind a harmony straight out of the 90s. The song is such a wacky combination of elements, and it works exceptionally well. Credit to Mike Riddleberger – drums, percussion, vocals, David Dawda – bass, acoustic guitar, ukelele, banjo, piano, vocals, and Dan Kreiger – keys for their tremendous work in this excellent song that is a great expression of the band’s talent.
“To The Fillmore East” immediately follows “Just the Same” on the album. Chess begins the song with a moaning harmonica that leads into his powerful croon over a crafty acoustic guitar that follows the vocal to a tee. The song collides at close to the one minute mark and the full ensemble introduces itself. Quintus’ harmony is strong throughout the album, but this song features it specifically well. The song even takes on a pre-Magical Mystery Tour Beatles feel or, better yet, a California Beach Boys feel. The breakdown at 1:40 is wonderfully original. The song is a tremendous joy to listen to, even featuring an untampered electric solo and a cajun-saturated vocal echo, finishing with a fluffy harmonica and whistle.
Levon Helm was right. Quintus is a special band. It’s time for them to get the notoriety they surely deserve. So, go on, tell your friends.