By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Joey Kendall deserves far more credit than he receives. Truth is, the mastermind behind Grapevine's joyous Mount Righteous collective is something of a pop genius. Always has been.
For years now—prior, even to Mount Righteous' circa 2008 explosion—Kendall has been penning offbeat pop ditties that toe the line between the brutally honest and the delightfully fantastical. More important, though, is the sentiment through which his music's filtered. Whether singing about love ("I Hear Music") or death ("You Will Bleed"), Kendall delivers his songs with a genuine, refreshing (or perhaps frightening) passion.
His latest release, Was Here, is no exception. Although ultimately nothing more than a collection of live recordings and studio demos posted on to his BandCamp site as a free download, the same point is made here, be it in the form of a stripped-down Mount Righteous song ("Sing to Me, Tiffany") or a remix of one of his own songs (the remix of "Fourth of July" under his Family Circuits moniker). Guy's got a knack for melody and clever rhymes alike—like Rhett Miller, but without the hyper-literate pretension and alt-country twang. And he doesn't need a studio to get his point across, although two Was Here songs employ such treatment ("The Closest Things," "1,500 Days") .
Currently, Kendall's wrapping up an honest-to-goodness, all-out studio effort—a formal solo debut, if you will. No doubt, that's good news. Here's just hoping the studio doesn't wash his music of its endearing personality and characteristics.