Do bees really laugh? If you were in Georgia … yes. It is the home of a tiny little swamp of an island that someone, somewhere decided to call Little Tybee. Well known for kayaking, surfing, … snakes too!
One thing the south has always done well is music. So it should make total sense that a band of musicians from Georgia would be worth a listen. Because music from the south seems to always give a listener a different slant on life. So with a name like Little Tybee, surely curiosity alone is enough to merit a listen. And this record deserves many of those.
WARNING: The vocal performance of writer-singer-pianist-guitarist Brock Scott along with brilliant musicianship may lead to temporary interruptions of positive cash flow.
The first cut, “Humorous to Bees” is actually a retro-ish intro that at first leaves one wondering where this is all going, but it serves as a perfect way to ease into the upcoming visions of “Strong Ears.” Visions that wash over you endlessly. Then, with perfect timing, a string quartet takes a turn, and we set out again on our journey of visions. Cap it off with all of these elements playing as good friends (and a few relatives), and the world suddenly looks different. Kind of like a Georgian Beach.
“Design” is officially the third cut and once again gives an aura of 40’s island sunsets in the chorus and the bigger picture starts to come into view, especially if you know of the legend of the undetonated atomic bomb that purportedly lives underwater off of Little Tybee island. A vision of, say, Pearl Harbor before the end of 1941. A bonus in this cut: Scott shares the spotlight with 8-string lead guitarist Josh Martin, who is one deadly man with a pick and an eight string guitar.
“Passion Seekers” starts with the magical sound of a … what is that? This cut is a sonic safari that brings Technicolor® to the picture with a piano and glockenspiel showing up in the first 20 seconds. Sunlight, moonlight, and a quirky guitar slide that becomes a theme … all that’s needed for another musical feather in their hat.
“Signal Below” is another of many that could and should be on a soundtrack record. Here’s an up tempo samba-ish feel added to some brutally kind guitar. The cut provides a big piece of the Tybee picture. So much to digest here that three minutes pass like a flash. And three listens still leaves more on the table. And the bigger picture grows.
“Nero” starts out with a spooky feeling intro that is the closest thing to a minor key we’ve heard so far, but the smiles all return with the singing, which at times Scott is using as an instrument rather than a vehicle for a defined subject. This one is in that category at times, and the interplay between the voice and the band establish a unified front. That is to say that at the times they all become one, the voice is more than words. And when the spooky part shows up again, Scott arranges a way for it to leave us with a happy ending.
“Revolutionary” wades into deep water, showing a poetic side of the band as well as the song. It allows the listener a break to digest it all up to now, and gives us instead the thought that they can not play just as good as they can. It becomes more of a picture of Scott and his minimal piano, with the band almost welcoming a break from the normally intense musicianship.
“Sympathetic Eye” breaks up the break with an intro straight out of … where was that? It’s actually a pre-cursor to a musically complicated set of bars placed between relatively simple verses. Meaning that it is really the simplicity of the verse, of all things, that’s the real twist.
“History” by this time is almost definitive Little Tybee. That is if there is such a thing, A tiny bit on the slower side, we are again in the presence of a visual array of colors, with, again, some magnificent guitar works by Martin and some swampy southern violin courtesy of Nirvana Kelly. And speaking of history, the core of Little Tybee is Kelly, Pat Brooks on Drums and percussion, Ryan Donald on bass, and again, Brock Scott, Josh Martin.
“The Wind Will Blow You Love” starts on a merry-go-round behind a piece of poetry that literally blows on your face. After a couple of verses, the vehicle picks up a bit more muscle as it morphs into a brew surrounding a guitar solo and another chorus. And the merry-go-round ride caries us out on a theme of simplicity.
“In Range” is one that, putting it mildly, leaves the listener wondering which way is up. If presented in the form of a report card, every instrument would have an A+.
“Holding Stones” as my hand sinks under, over and over as it all goes to the depths of the sea. What a fabulous way to end a fabulous record. It leaves this listener pining for the ocean, sea oats, unpopulated dunes, and endless thought. It’s a feeling that normally occurs at sunset, but on Little Tybee, I’m sure it would be at first light.
Maybe that’s what’s so funny to bees.
- John Hampton
John Hampton is a Grammy winning producer/recording engineer whose experience includes working on albums with The Dead Weather, The Gin Blossoms, The White Stripes, The Replacements, The Cramps, Alex Chilton and John Kilzer.