Live Review: Andy Jenkins – Mercury Lounge, NYC

Spacebomb Record’s hot new summer release, Sweet Bunch by Andy Jenkins, is a must listen and if you’re lucky enough, he’s bringing his band to a stage near you to perform the magic. Last Thursday he performed his debut album at Mercury Lounge in NYC and everyone in that room was treated with the gift of Jenkins’ simple yet fascinating song-making power.

For those who hadn’t heard the record yet, they probably thought the band was only tuning up as soon as they all took the stage. But when the beat dropped, everyone realized that those were the beginning rumblings of the first song of the record, Hazel Woods. The song picks up after the first minute of the tune-up jam and blasts into the first verse. Jenkins’ songs are thoughtful and enjoyable, as his simple vocals supports the rich longing in his deep grooves. Backed by the Spacebomb house band, comprised of Cameron Ralston on bass, Alan Parker on guitar and Pinson Chanselle on drums, Jenkins’ supporting cast truly enhanced the excitement of the music.

Next they played Genuine Heart, which featured a rocking drumbeat and funky chord progression. Curve Of Love followed and still had all the exciting energy to captivate me hearing it live, even though Phil Cook was missing on the piano. A full-band studio sound worked very well for the songs that Jenkins wrote for this project, but he is currently proving on tour that all he needs is percussion and guitars to get the crowd moving.

Ascendant Hog was a set highlight for a lot of fans in the audience. The feel good, driving beat and melody in this song are the two characteristics that make it one of Jenkins’ stronger and catchier songs in his repertoire. Then, both Andy and Cameron asked the audience to get closer to the stage for the next song and the band fittingly jumped right into an energetic version of Get Together.

After two cover songs which I was unfamiliar with, the set finished out with an animated and bright version of Illuminated, followed by a funky and soul-grooving rendition of the title track Sweet Bunch. This was another highlight of the night, even though Matthew E. White wasn’t around to sing the first verse.

Andy Jenkins has displayed tremendous potential with his debut album Sweet Bunch and if he continues to surround himself with friends and fellow song-makers at Spacebomb, there will be a lot more buzz going on around him.

Scott J. Herman