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call it a custom

Album review: Lennon Bone - Call It A Custom (EP)

Awhile back I spoke of the redeeming values of the EP during my review of the latest Katy Guillen and the Girls release (see that review here). I mentioned that one of two ways that the short-form album works best is to give a newer artist a chance to get their music out more quickly than waiting to have enough material for a full-length album. The second benefit of the EP, in my mind, is to let established artists work on their craft by experimenting with new material or a new sound, and in the process exploring their own capabilities.
Enter Lennon Bone, the drummer and co-vocalist for Ha Ha Tonka (a quick side note: if you haven’t already done so, add Ha Ha Tonka’s new album Lessons to your music collection as soon as possible). Bone, founder of Sharp County Records, released his first solo effort, Lost/Accolades, in late 2011—an eight-track album that was more like two EPs of vastly diverse inspiration joined together. It was his debut as a solo artist, giving him a chance to see where he could take his music on his own, and the results were very well received. Now he offers another four-track mini-album, Call It A Custom, which not only reveals Bone as having more confidence to express his voice and individuality, but also shows a conscious effort to establish himself as a man of his own style and not one to lean on the success of his collaborations with his bandmates. Bone looks upon his solo work as a way to express the musical side of him that he doesn’t have the opportunity to follow through with Ha Ha Tonka, but he readily admits that his band probably does influence him in a subliminal way.
He certainly fills the shoes of one-man band quite nicely; the credits prove that Bone isn’t content to just sit behind a drum kit, as he provides vocals, guitars, bass, trumpet, keys, and computer wizardry as well as percussion duties. The result is a sound that’s gentle, warm, sleepy, and unhurried—making Call It A Custom an easier-than-easy listen. From the retro-Casio sound lending a sterile comfort to the opening track, “They All Seem To Know” to the reservedly-bouncy “Sinking Feelings” to the sublime slither and Tom Petty-esque feel of “Leave It To Us” to the atmospheric stop-and-go of the title track, Bone covers quite a bit of territory in fifteen short minutes. It’s a journey that he seemingly enjoys taking… and one that may be more of a reality at an undetermined point. When asked if he would like to eventually take his own music on the road, Bone said that it’s a possibility but many factors would have to be weighed before making that jump—putting a band together, booking shows while working around Ha Ha Tonka’s schedule, and most important of all, being a doting father to his baby daughter Brada.
Whether a full-fledged tour ever happens, it’s clear that Lennon Bone is a gifted musician and songwriter in his own right. With the wonderfully-presented Call It A Custom furthering his overall musical output, both as a band member and an individual artist, it appears that one could look at his career thus far…


…and call it a good one.
--Michael Byars 

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