Great songwriting. Great piano. Great guitar. Great. The new album, Five, from Dallas, Texas duo The Bones has the makings of one of 2020’s best yet. Formed in 2010, keyboardist /vocalist Jeff McMullen and guitarist/vocalist Paul V. Gandolfi may throw folks off a bit with their band name, but when you get down to the nitty gritty, these guys can construct fine songs and can sure tickle the keys and throw shapes on the guitar.

In the opening song, “Wasted” the listener gets pulled into a wonderfully woven story. With lyrics like “If I stop to shed a tear along the way, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’ll keep my heart at bay, now is the time, in the still before the dawn, growing courage and the strength to carry on, I don’t know why I waited, I just had to drink it through, and now I’m wasted, now I’m wasted on you.” The listener can’t help but connect with the idea that fear prevented a previous relationship from happening; hesitation might have kept the protagonist in the wrong relationship. Now that the subject is in a good spot, they are engulfed in this person, and can’t sustain that love enough. What gives “Wasted” the extra bounce is the piano and switch off  in vocals. One voice delivers a smooth, modest sound; the other voice has more grit, almost whiskey-laced, with more raw emotion.

BANDCAMP: https://thebones.bandcamp.com/album/five

“Lolita” is a great pop rock song about a young redhead. Not to be confused with Lana Del Ray’s “Lolita”, this track really shines with the electronic guitar and isolated drum arrangements. The vocals are emotional and the chorus – infectious: “can’t you see that I need a friend tonight…come and dance for me Lolita, only you can make it right”. The vocals are once again husky, and a bit edgy. The guitar riffs go from Texas rock to a more melodic tone at the bridge.

Track three, “Fallen” plays best with the piano keys emotion. Again, the duo use a tag team approach to the vocals and this gives “Fallen” a bit more of a ballad sound. With lyrics like “I’ve fallen, I’ve fallen, I’ve fallen, in love…we both know love aint easy, but that don’t mean we don’t need it” there’s a much more sense of yearning and vulnerability. The guitar riff in year will definitely get stuck in your head. Just unforgettable.

The redhead is again the topic of song in the lovey dovey “She’s Only rock & Roll”. The piano arrangement is gorgeous. By the title alone one would dream this is a rockin’, mind-melting song. On the contrary, if it weren’t a tribute to a happy life with a wife and family, one would think it would serve as a wedding song. It’s very sweet.

Finally, “78” picks up the tempo. The guitar riff lasts a few measures and song that Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” would be proud of the references to Grease, disco, Star Wars before harmonizing  “do-do-do you, do-do-do you feel the spirit of ’78, do-do-do you, do-do-do you feel the magic just like ‘78”. I had fun with this song – and the rhythm will get you moving those shoulders. The cool keyboard vibe with a bit of a funky guitar work is easy to jive to.

Michael Rand

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