I’ll say this about Richmond, Virginia’s Andy Jenkins: he’s a guy who seems to know how to pull some strings. Specifically, he’s got more record labels than he’s got albums (I always wondered how that worked).
And he knows how to land himself one he** of a producer, too, who dripped on to this LP one of the most beautiful string-drone intros I’ve ever heard, and who sequenced this album in a way that was wise and advantageous for the artist. Bandcamp credits one Matthew E. White with production duties.
“Hazel Woods” and “Curve of Love,” the first two songs, are both excellent, semi-epic folk-rock, resemblant of My Morning Jacket covering Kurt Vile and the Violators, or thereabouts. Light, fluttering guitar clouds the sound’s contours in style all over methodical drums, but the real shining token is Jenkins’ voice, rich, hearty and full of an undeniable genuineness that seems distinctly American. Indeed, for a while with these rich grooves I thought we were turning a new page in American folk rock. “Genuine Heart” even comes in coyly and inspiringly enough: “All I’m good for is a genuine heart” sings Jenkins in that same throaty, dictator-like growl, but the chorus literally ruins it: “Everything that everyone says is boring / I only wanna listen to to you”. Not only does this contradict him having a “genuine heart” (I buy the “genuine” part but not the “heart” aspect), but his choice of the word “boring,” while he may be in some way trying to play the juvenile card to achieve some noble savage rocker type archetype, is still overly juvenile nonetheless, a fact evident from how he has to utter it in dialect and not his normal accent, which is of a great Virginia rocker (Virginia is a very rocking state, if you didn’t know it, having also bequeathed us Dave Matthews, Dave Grohl and Henry Rollins). To only make matters worse, Jenkins repeats this chorus ad nauseam (maybe there’s some sheltered 19 year old girl out there who found it really amusing when he played it for her over foamy lattes… I’m not sure). The rest of Sweet Bunch is basically marked by stasis, faux-emotional sap-fests about Jenkins’ “genuine heart” he claims to have which is actually just an act. This guy could be a pretty decent songwriter if he’d just grow up a bit — go rally for the detained Mexican children, help out some hurricane victims, see the world and live a little.