CD Review: Little Tybee “Humorous to Bees”

It is unfortunate that artists like Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, The Squirrel Nut Zippers, Combustible Edison, or even Las Toallitas are few and far between. When someone different comes along we should promote them and not push them down. With that in mind, I want to introduce you to the band Little Tybee and their new release Humorous to Bees.
Little Tybee makes its home in Atlanta, Georgia. The core band is made of five members (at least for this album): Multi-talented singer-songwriter Brock Scott who also plays guitar and keys, guitarist Josh Martin, bassist Ryan Donald, violinist Nirvana Kelly and drummer Pat Brooks. The core members are only some of the musicians that make up the bigger ensemble known as Little Tybee. For this album alone, the total band of musicians number 14 members. These additional musicians help create a sound that is unlike a lot of bands that are currently in the music industry.

The new release from Little Tybee is a twelve-track release that incorporates many different elements into one beautiful album. The music contains some jazz, folk and other genres within the rock music that the band composes. This creates a wonderful indie feel to the band’s music.

One thing that is very apparent as soon as you put the release on is Brock Scott’s voice: Scott’s vocal quality would remind you of Jim James, the lead singer of the band My Morning Jacket. Like James, Scott’s voice is in the high tenor register. Scott’s high voice in itself makes Little Tybee’s music unique. But when coupled with the style of the band, you have something that you don’t hear on mainstream radio… and that’s not a bad thing.
Humorous to Bees starts with the title track. The liner notes claim that the album was recorded in recording studios, basements and bathrooms around the Atlanta area. With this track, you can definitely tell that Brock Scott recorded the track in one of the bathrooms that were already mentioned. The naturally occuring reverb that exists in public restrooms helps to add a certain amount of production value with almost no effort and helps to add depth to a song that is literally just Brock and his guitar.

“Strong Ears” is the second track off of Humorous to Bees. It’s also the first track with the entire group. The lyrics of the song seem to summarize the feelings in today’s political scene here in the U.S. as the political ground is continuously shifting. And with the violin playing of Nirvana Kelly and the light percussion, there is a definite folk feeling to the track.
“Passion Seekers” is another track on the release where part of the music was recorded in a bathroom. This time, the first fifteen seconds of the song was recorded using the reverb of the bathroom to add texture to Nirvana Kelly’s solo on the violin that opens the song. On this song, Adron Parnassum joins Brock Scott for a duet. Parnassum’s voice is a welcome addition to the album that otherwise feaures only Brock Scott on vocals.

When listening to “Signal Below,” the first thing that comes to mind is that the song has a style that is very reminiscent of music that has been created by Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. There is a certain amount of lounge music feeling to the song that blends well with the band’s indie style to create one of the album’s best tracks. The eight-string guitar of Josh Martin and the violin playing from Kelly really help make the song.

Even before Little Tybee released their newest release of Humorous to Bees, their song “Nero” and its coinciding video were giving fans of the band a sneak peak of what could be expected when the entire release was put out. The video for “Nero” features yo-yo champion Mark Mongomery showing off some of his moves as the rest of the world goes on around him. The simple concept for the video is so memorable that you can still see the video in your head as you listen to the CD.

Humorous to Bees continues with the track “Revolutionary”. On this track, lead singer Brock Scott puts down his guitar in exchange for the piano. “Revolutionary” is probably the one track that can only be described as being folk. The track features an almost completely acoustic sound, and the entire band really shines on this track.

Brock Scott and his piano are once again featured on the last track of the album. The easy pace of “Holding Stones” seems to be a good way to finish off Humorous to Bees by Little Tybee.

Many different elements make Humorous to Bees by Little Tybee very interesting, whether it’s the violin playing of Nirvana Kelly, the eight-string guitar of Josh Martin, the very interesting voice of Brock Scott, the use of bathrooms and basements to add atmosphere to the sound of the music, or the ensemble feel of the entire group. Whatever it is that catches your ear, you’ll probably agree that Humorous to Bees by Little Tybee is, by far, one of the best albums of 2011 thus far.