Why Bonnie: 90 in November (Keeled Scales) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Why Bonnie

90 in November

Keeled Scales

Aug 16, 2022 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

The way things are trending, the title of the debut album from Brooklyn by way of Texas band Why Bonnie may be universally understood soon enough. In the meantime, the quintet, led by Blair Howerton, stakes claim to a particular Gulf Coast tinged melange of salt, heat, sweat, and, somehow in the midst of that, enough energy to deliver more than a fair share of swagger. If you’ve experienced the oppressiveness of a late-summer baker along the East Texas I-10 corridor, you know that the blast coming from Sam Houdek’s guitar on the opening track, “Sailor Mouth,” is meant to represent that intensity itself, not some high energy reaction to it.

On their Keeled Scales debut, Howerton and her crew smartly steer away from their early indie pop leanings in favor of a varied and, at times, muscular approach. At the same time, they latch onto their home state ethos to guide them on their way. “Sailor Mouth,” “Lot’s Wife,” and the slower to catch fire “Sharp Turn” display the band’s musical punch, while Howerton displays hints of a husky toughness, not unlike Lydia Loveless, but with a lot less twang. While keyboardist, Kendall Powell, lends her mightiest touch to the classically grooved organ notes of “Galveston.”

“Galveston,” along with the atmospheric “Hot Car” and “Silsbee,” anchor not too far offshore of Howerton’s nearest hometown beach. Her observation of “we lost the pier to hurricane season,” on “Galveston,” evidences a matter of fact awareness of nature’s disregard for the plans of mere mortals. The labored trudge of “Hot Car” meets its subject at its mark, while the math rock beginning of “Silsbee” gives way to Howerton’s tone poem remembrance of her late brother. Standing somewhat apart of the rest of the album, the alt-rock stylings of the title track make for a compelling signature song for the burgeoning band.

Why Bonnie cover a lot of sonic ground on their debut and showcase the capability to take things further down Gulf Coast highways or wherever their path may take them. If not quite the total swampy immersion of Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels or Rodney Crowell’s The Houston Kid (not really fair comparisons for relative newcomers), Howerton shows the ability to pull from the backyard of her youth and describe things musically and lyrically so that you can feel them in your bones. Not unlike “Sailor Mouth” telescoping the hellfire of the August day on which 90 in November is being released straight into your ears. (www.whybonnie.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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