|Photo credit: ShervinFoto.com
You see features – including on here – about bands you should watch that are on the rise. They’re shiny and new and potentially something special. This is all fine and good in trying to raise the profile of new bands who might need the exposure, but sometimes when there are certain artists I want to talk about that have been around for a while. Sure, they might have a new single/EP/album which brings them to attention, but I feel like it undermines their work so far to say that they’re someone you should only *now* look out for.
I think I’m going to change the format instead of Ones To Watch to a fall under a category called Care About. Old or new, I want to write about artists that inspire me no matter where they’re at in their careers, and I want to write about why I think you should care about them.
First up for this treatment is Kevin Devine.
If you like The Front Bottoms or the little known band Brand New, then you should at least be aware of Kevin. I’ve found it to be the case, although not always, that people that I speak to that are fans of these bands have heard of Kevin, but don’t listen to him as extensively as they do with the other aforementioned bands.
I always want to shake them and tell them to “DO IT!” very much in a Shia LeBeouf fervour. But why? I’ll reduce it down to a list format and then expand.
1. He’s a superb lyricist.
This one speaks for itself, go and absorb his words. He has a degree in journalism – so he knows the logistics of story telling and the importance of that. I think it adds a different element to his song writing. He’s also heavily inspired by bands like Nirvana and Elliot Smith – so I can imagine he wrestles a lot with the idea of morality. If lyrics and writing weren’t for doing so, then what else? He can take these troubled influences and through their work draw inspiration and create something tangible, meaningful and beautiful.
2. He has a brilliant voice.
Another one that speaks for itself. Go listen to him. Now.
3. He isn’t afraid to comment on current political issues either on social media or in song.
He’s written a number of songs commenting on the state of the world and it’s politics. Music is a good tool for conveying ideas and exploring important issues, and whether people agree or not that musicians should have strong political stances, he does it masterfully, anyway. It’s intelligent and critical without being brutal. It’s honest. If something is important to him – especially in political sense – I think it’s vital that he expresses that through song. It lets people who feel this way connect to what he’s saying and thinking. Maybe you’re in a place where a lot of people around you don’t agree with how you see the world. Put on a Kevin Devine song, and he’s right there with you.
4. He has his own brand of coffee with corresponding mugs.
If you want to pick this up with his coffee blend, you can do so at his merch site. I can’t vouch for the coffee but the mug is my new staple mug and I will cherish it for the rest of my days.
5. He’s been a working musician for over a decade.
Through the rise and fall of MySpace and all, he’s been around even when the industry has been changing significantly. I have a lot of respect for that. While he’s not had a lot of mainstream success, he has a tight knit of cult fans who I think all feel as strongly as I do about his music. He’s never stopped. He’s always touring, always writing, always working on a new project. I suppose the success doesn’t matter, but the very act of doing and being consistent and consistently good is what makes him so special.
6. He collaborates with a variety of amazing artists.
Recently he’s undertaken a split vinyl collaboration
with different artists which comes in six parts. He also plays in a side project with singer of Manchester Orchestra, Andy Hull, and the band are called Bad Books
The two of them make beautiful music together and the way their voices blend is kind of magical.
7. He plays in beautiful venues.
Sadly I couldn’t get down to Kingston Church in London when he played last year but it looked beautiful. Maybe he could play St. Luke’s next time he’s up in Glasgow for a solo show.
Coincidentally, he has a live version of this entire concert coming out on vinyl that will be available at Big Scary Monsters on the 19th of Februrary. Preorder link is here
8. He is incredibly humble.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Kevin a couple of times when he’s played in Glasgow and I can attest that he is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He has a lot of heart – and that’s evident when he plays live. He puts a lot of himself into it. He strains himself and his voice because that’s what’s required of the songs that he writes. He never stops, he’s beyond committed and he isn’t an asshole about it.
9. He covers songs he loves, and adds his own unique twist to them.
There’s something really lovely about someone who can make someone else’s song completely their own. He nails it every time.
10. Seriously, he’s just fucking brilliant.
So. so. brilliant.
If this has swayed you after reading and you’re in the UK – you’re in luck! Kevin will be supporting The Front Bottoms on an upcoming February tour, although a lot of the shows are selling out so be quick.
If the show in your city in your town is sold out, I’d try twitter. I’ve seen him retweet those who are looking for tickets too. See, he cares, you guys.
And that’s why you should care about him too.