With the explosion in indie music and DIY artists, having an eye-popping (and sometimes perplexing and nonsensical) name is almost as important as having outstanding music. And in many cases, the two go hand-in-hand, where the music matches the creativity behind the name. One such band that hits the mark is Be Calm Honcho, the four-piece, indie outfit from San Francisco, California.
In the wake of positive reviews for its singles, “Step Out” and “I Love California” (both are below), the band released its debut LP just last week, Honcho Dreams. The album is 11 tracks of swirling indie-pop-rock – in other words, it’s quite good. Right from the opening track, “Step Out”, you’re welcomed to the groovy pop sound of the band. The song is infectious and perfect for summer. “Mean Pack”, which compares humans with various animals (coyotes, whales, bees, among others) and speaks about the pack mentality of people, takes a funky-folk approach, much like fellow Bay-area trio Shannon and the Clams.
“Pretty on the West Coast” is a cool, laid-back tune that resonates of the cool vibes of Rilo Kiley and Best Coast. “Sea of Xs” is a fun song that has the feel of a classic show tune. It is a song that has you anxiously anticipating a big climax and elongated jam, which doesn’t quite happen (it might be the case live), but at the same time it might leave you jittering around the house.
The album then slows down with mellow but groovy tunes in “Go Outside”, “Be Brave”, and “Each Day”. “Brimming” is also another slower tune, but has an extra elemental quality that the previous three lack – a showiness with the sprinkle of horns and a dizzying feel with its dark, broodiness. The song has gorgeous textures that could leave you in a hypnotic state or could take you away to the days of hallowed, smokey bars and mysterious characters.
“I Love CA“, a song about their home state, is clever and the standout track on this superb album. On this song, Be Calm Honcho takes a lighthearted yet honest look of The Golden State, revealing a love-hate relationship with all that’s great and not-so-great with California, in particular with respect to the notion that image is more important than anything else. Beneath this catchy pop tune is a great message about self-respect and personal freedom.
While the musicianship is solid and the sounds are great, frontwoman Shannon Harney steals the show. With a buzzing voice that beckons at times of Divinyls’ Chrissy Amphlett and with her witty lyrics, Honcho Dreams is more than just another indie record – it’s one that truly is a standout among many with its fun and unique approach.
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