Be Calm Honcho are a melting pot of sounds and influences. The pop music for grown-ups of The Beautiful South. The jangly guitars of Johnny Marr. The late night boozy fun of Morphine. The wonder of Sigur Ros. The dreamy folk-gaze of Mazzy Star. The bruised emotions and spectrum riot of The Associates (Spectrum Riot would be a good title for the second album, guys…). Styles and moods are mashed together. Colours and tastes are mixed. On top of that you have a voice like Poly Styrene singing soul. Be Calm Honcho are a Californian (…very Californian!) band and are carrying on those fine musical traditions. They are Michael Carrera (drums), Shannon Harney (vocals & keys) with Jacob Landry & Alex Westry covering all things guitar. Honcho Music is their album. Let’s take a look… Flagship single ‘I Love California’ may start off with a Black Angels / Black Keys grind and sultry vocals but events take an unusual turn with a passage of Patti Smith style poetry dissolving into a sugared, glitzy chorus. A love song to California it may be but this song is perfect for any place in the world where the sun is shining and you are surrounded by friends. Click here to watch the video for ‘I Love California’ (featuring the band dicking about in a delightfully Beastie Boys manner)
And when they finally met midway between Hollywood and The Bay They entangled at angles and covered each other with each other like they’d been doing since they were teenagers, toasting the coast and beyond and the sand they stood on was fucking violet.
I love California like you do, I fall for her harder in the full moon, Meet me by the creek I’ll be there all day, Wading in waist deep, Beneath the firework display
‘Pretty On The West Coast’ is a song melting; too exquisite for solid form. Vaguely resembling a 50s teen-dream with Stratocaster licks flared like the tail fins of a cherry red T-bird. Click here to see ‘Petty On The West Coast’ live. Meanwhile ‘Step Out’ rolls like with the controlled funk of Talking Heads collided with the style of Station To Station era Bowie. ‘Mean Pack’ has a post punk staccato say, of The Au Pairs with the brains of a Tom Verlaine album track. Harney’s vocals are simply sensational on this track. Maybe ‘Sea of Xs’ sounds like a flamenco Nancy Sinatra track (or maybe it doesn’t). ‘Go Outside’ intertwines nocturnal caressing vocals that build into a glorious, heartfelt crescendo with sky scraper guitar. ‘Always My Fault’ is a spaghetti western lament.
‘Be Brave’, ‘Each Day’ and ‘What We Have Made’ are the slower songs, where the Mazzy Star / Morphine sounds comes to the fore with Harney’s smoky voice dripping with precocious authority and strength. The rhythm section of Be Calm Honcho is tour de force and underpins the album by spinning from stark to sexy in a heartbeat.
Click to watch ‘Each Day’ performed live and it dazzles… On top of all this you have a provocatively garish sense of fashion that would make The Cramps wince. Tempestuous, delicate, intelligent, hedonistic, bruised, uncontrollable, sensual. Music for 24 hour party people.