Everybody has a band that they currently view as the next big thing. Many music critics, journalists and bloggers have their favorites that frequently pop up on the web, touting about new trends in music that will quickly sell out tickets to their next hipster-filled show. Then there is Boston's Bon Savants. They have been quietly honing their craft, developing a batch of quality songs that go beyond hype and short-lived trends.
Although they are a relatively new band for those of us outside the Boston area, their roots go back to a collaboration between frontman Thomas Moran and co-founder/guitarist Kevin Haley. The two began their musical careers together as teenagers in a post-punk group while living in Germany. Fast forward to Moran's adult years, when in '99 he was mugged while walking home one evening. He came so close to death that the police started a homicide investigation. That experience inspired him to round up Haley, who was currently bouncing between Germany, Texas and Colorado. After securing Dave Wessel on bass and Andrew Dole on drums, Bon Savants were born.
Before I listened to a few tracks from their LP, Post Rock Defends The Nation, I was told that they sounded British. In fact, Thomas Moran's vocals were even compared to those of Pulp's Jarvis Cocker. That was quite a bold statement to me, as very few have the pipes and lyrical intelligence of Jarvis, and I have to admit that after checking out "What We Need," the comparison is spot on. His range easily flows from a smooth croon to a pitch-perfect falsetto, all while supported by swirling guitars, fuzzed out bass and huge melodies that will catapult this band out of Boston to the rest of the globe.
"Between The Moon And The Ocean" is the vehicle that will drive Bon Savants to the next level. Thom and the Savants have crafted the perfect indie pop song, with a hook that will bounce around in your head for days. Before long you will find yourself singing the chorus, "Oh, you kiss like a Russian. We sank so low, between the moon and the ocean." This is the type of song that can launch a band's career to new heights, an impressive feat for a group releasing their debut album.
While many of the songs on the album do fall into the category of indie pop, the guys also like to stomp on a few distortion pedals and make some noise. "Everyone" is one of these rockers, with waves of guitar crashing down while Dave Wessel's fuzz bass keeps it all together. There is a dark side to Bon Savants, which rains down in full force on this chilling track. The storm clouds then part, making way for one of Moran's finest vocal performances on the song "Mass Ave And Broadway." While this track may be one of the most straight forward on the album, it also shows the strength in the Savants' songwriting. The melody of the line "This hand, this bottle, are real, but unlike the love that I feel, this bottle won't go, 'til I've sucked it dry" is pure pop perfection.
The album concludes with another favorite, "I Am The Atom Bomb." What else would you expect from a band with a rocket scientist for a frontman? Yup, you read that correctly. As the precise guitar chords match right up to the keys, all the pieces fit perfectly on the closing track to this outstanding album.
The more I listen to Bon Savants, I hear similarities to many other melodic rock greats, from Magnetic Fields to Pulp to Doves and even David Bowie. Although currently unsigned, something tells me that a label deal won't be far off. Big things are in store for this band, so remember where you heard about them first.