If you don’t live on the West Coast a band named Honey Bucket probably won’t have any bad connotations for you. For those of us not so fortunate, well let’s just say that we will just have to try not to touch anything and hold our noses as we listen. Port-a-potty influenced name aside, Portland trio Honey Bucket have just released an excellent debut record that has elements of their pals Woolen Men, the Clean and some Elephant 6 collective in its pop innards.
Recorded to a Tascam, the aesthetic of the album reminds me of the early Elephant 6 records by Beulah, The Apples In Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. It’s sort of geeky pop fun at its core with cheap sounding keyboards and some free jazz horns interspersed into its pure pop.
Mark Chester may be one of the most prolific fellows you’ve never heard of. He’s released three albums in past three years under his solo moniker the Dublin, Ireland based Ginnels(Ginnels, according to my Merriam-Webster is a narrow passage way between two buildings). His last album was the sprawling 20 song Crowns which Chester said was inspired by records like 69 Love Songs, Sandinista and Bee Thousand. The problem was that all of the releases were digital only with the exception of one which was also released as a cassette. If you release a record into the ether does anyone hear it? Sure, a few people do but is it taken seriously? Can you truly love a digital download?
Chester no longer has to worry about questions like those because the Spanish label Tenorio Cotobade has just released Plumes on vinyl. Plumes collects songs from all three of Ginnels albums and slaps them onto a big piece of plastic so you can consummate your love these songs which have much in common with the likes of the Apples in Stereo, Salako, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Bats, and the Clean. Chester seems to be a bottomless well of them too. It’s like Like some mad scientist injected him with a serum that produces highly melodic, introspective, jangly compositions. Chester though adds a touch of weariness to this formula that makes them hold more weight than your standard caffeinated New Zealand loving indie band of today.
More Seattle goodness, this time from the friendly neighborhood Neighbors who are about to release their second album on Lost Sound Tapes. The easy reference point of Neighbors is Pavement, and I’m sure the band intend it, but their new album John In Babeland is not just paint by numbers. Pavement weren’t created in a vacuum, and Neighbors have more than just one single influence. Since I don’t personally know them I couldn’t tell you what they are, but bands like Firehose, REM, Camper van Beethoven, Neutral Milk Hotel and Hefner all come to mind. John In Babeland is their second album and vastly improves on their first record Puros Exitos, which had some good moments, but was really a young band kind of feeling its way around.
The album is named for their now departed bassist and a sex shop here in Seattle. Besides sex, the album exudes an easy confidence. Its 12 songs are quirky and immediately likable. Sometimes you think they’re punks, sometimes they’re arty smart-asses and other times they give the impression that they’re crusty hippies. Those three things (plus the sex) of course, are the main ingredients of most of the great bands throughout rock history.