When you have been listening to music regularly for a long time, it happens that you feel that nothing exciting is coming out, sometimes for a long period of time. Possibly this pandemic has contributed to this feeling – new releases being pushed ahead, no follow-up on older releases in the form of concerts and festival, and so on.
Early 2021 has been underwhelming so far, in terms of quality and quantity, but listening to a record like Homebody is one of those things that can restore faith in art and humanity in a matter of minutes. Beautifully expansive in terms of arrangements but also sympathetically down-to-earth, this is the first LP output by Russell Gendron and his band, Bill Jr. Jr.
Loosely associated with close-by Aidan Knight (hailing from Victoria) in terms of style, Russell Gendron has quite a diverse songwriting, which his band has helped expand into a remarkably interesting set of songs. Droning “Renaissance Man”, the opening single, treads into The War On Drugs americana, coupled with some characteristic strings arrangement.
Musical taste is not under discussion here, and it is especially nice how the band can mix classical and popular, noise and silence in an enticing, organic way (“Run Home”). Russell also mixes more radio-friendly songs like “So Long”, with its oddly refreshing Knopfler-ian guitar riffs and a John Mayer’s mood (!), and more 90s-inspired, avant-sounding songs like “Dear Neighbor”, or the slightly “off” “Blue”, which seems to come from a tribute to Beach Boys from Grizzly Bear.
What is unmistakable, again, is the extension of the band’s passion and competence in music, which simply flows into an album that projects Bil Jr. Jr. as one of the new names for 2021.