Bones Muhroni is a name that has a very soft spot in the northern Colorado music scene. The group spent their founding years in Greeley, performing in just about every venue the town had to offer for a folk rock band. Having played extensively in Colorado, Bones built a strong base for themselves in their home state. On Christmas Day 2012, the boys dropped the long-awaited full-length album Savvy, a record that truly captures the quirky, soft-hearted sound northern Colorado fans have come to love.
“Epiphany” sets the mood and a standard for the album in a jig that calls to the scientific side in all of us, somewhat reminiscent of a Weird Science kind of age. It showcases rhythm guitarist and vocalist Crew Rienstra’s unique talent of playing the harmonica while simultaneously beatboxing. This song also reintroduces us to the core Bones sound: that rock, off-country, more rhythm than blues, folk rock masquerade that fans have been intrigued by for the last two years.
The true jewel of this album is “The Mender,” an ode to an older form of songwriting, where the imagery is simple yet evokes a sense of the bigger picture around the music. Rienstra’s vocals, coupled with harmonies by Chris Jones, and the pairing of their guitar styles create a fullness many mainstream folk rock acts are missing. Topped with Craig Basarich of Paul Beveridge and Company on flugelhorn, the song has an atmosphere that stands alone.
The album shifts gears at this point with tracks, such as “Not No Hell” and “Squeezin’ and Pleasin’,” that assume an almost jam-band style, which departs some from the stronger points of the record but still holds onto that Bones core sound. On “Cookie,” Bones goes doo-wop and here drummer Ryan Wykert really shines. On this track, we suddenly realize how big of a role he plays on this record. His playing is never overwhelming or overshadowing of the other members, creating space where needed and leaving room for Rienstra and Jones to stretch their vocals.
“Salem” returns to the singer-songwriter style that fits well between Rienstra and Jones, obviously well-tailored from their start as a simple acoustic guitar duo. “A, Live, Sad, Guy” closes out the album in epic fashion, with an emotion that is raw and open (although the lyrics about Sylvia Plath are hilariously off-putting).
Recorded here in Colorado, half at the University of Northern Colorado recording studio and half in Jones’s parents basement, it would be a disservice to call this anything other than a rock and roll album. It has elements from all over the musical spectrum and never stays in one place for long. This, however, is one of the album’s greatest strengths as well as one of its biggest weaknesses. The diversity shows that Bones can pretty much play anything they put their minds to, and they can be comfortable musically in any environment. But the distance they go across the musical board is almost too far apart sometimes. Each member clearly has their own style, and fitting those styles together, while at the same time holding on to those dynamic elements that makes Bones so irresistible, is going to be a big challenge for the band. This being said, Savvy is a step in the right direction for Bones as they now have a solid platform to move onto bigger and better things. This album gives a perspective on the band that cannot be found in their live performances, and shows that what they decide to do next will surely be big.