Readers, something very profound happened to me the other day. My friends in the band Highly Likely asked me if I would review their new video for the song “Shiny Objects”, and of course I wanted to jump right in. But here’s the thing, though. Sometimes life throws curveballs at you or maybe it’s nothing in particular, and if you’re like me you can find yourself in a funk where you don’t want to go out and be social. After I agreed to review this post I had some not so good days. I found myself in a mood on the day I said I would drop by and talk to the band about their video.
So there I was, Clifton, on a Thursday night. I’d been to Char and Brian Bowling’s house more times than I can count already, so I knew I could just drop by. Highly Likely was in the basement, rehearsing for some killer upcoming shows and the release of their LP, “Sunrise”, which I’ll get into in a minute. We’re all rusty after this pandemic, so getting back into the pocket doesn’t happen right away. Rehearsal time now that we can meet up again is precious. The band was down in the basement, focused on polishing up their songs, not hearing me knocking on the door or their phones dinging as I try to tell someone I’m outside. For about 35 minutes, I just sat in a lawn chair and looked at the sky and let myself do nothing until the band came out for a break.
The band eventually came outside for a break to find me chilling on the back step, and as we caught up with each other I got to watch the Shiny Objects video for the first time. The song is catchy, trippy, and makes you want to bop around as you think about the shiny objects in our worlds and on our screens. Readers, I can’t tell you how much this video is perfect for this band. Tin foil hats, velvet suits, the coolest van you’ve ever seen, and five people having a blast is what Highly Likely is all about. Drummer Sleepy Andy Tracy told me about how a conversation he had with Char during a set break gave them an idea to write a song about how distracted people can be. An idea became a hook, a hook became a melody, and when Andy had time to sit down and write, they had lyrics. From there, the rest of the band took in the product so far and gave it what bassist Jeff “Jeffro” Roades called “The Highly Likely Treatment”.
What is the Highly Likely treatment? Let’s use the core of the band as an example. Char and Brian play as a guitar/banjo duo called Twig & Leaf. An acoustic guitar and a solid backed banjo is going to have a pretty folky sound. Char’s voice and the lyrics to her original songs entwined with Brian’s banjo would fit at any folk festival and they do indeed play at many. Jeffro and mandolin player Mark Miller have played together in different combinations, and when they joined forces on Twig & Leaf songs they find a new level of energy. After some time, Sleepy Andy jumped in with drums and harmonica. Once the drums started driving the beat the other instruments began to wander into wah pedals and crazy effects. After hanging outside with the band for a while, they invited me in to watch them rehearse and show me what the Highly Likely treatment looks like. I said I had to go because I was trying to hide the funk I was feeling, but they talked me into hearing them play “Shiny Objects” live. I sat in their rehearsal space and watched them kick into a jam. I don’t know what I was thinking before. That was the best place I could possibly be. They went into another song that had a tricky intro to it. I watched the band teach each other the opening riff, trip up, try again, then get it right. Drop a lyric, forget a chord, let’s go back. These guys were the patient, supportive kind of people you would want to have in your band. On the third pass they crushed it. On the song after that I jumped up and I high-fived Sleepy Andy because watching someone crush a harmonica solo while playing the drums just absolutely blew my mind, and I got to watch it from six feet away. I hung around for two more songs after that until I really had to go. Being inside that rehearsal reminded me what music is all about.
I keep that rehearsal in my mind when I watch “Shiny Objects”. I see five excellent songwriters and musicians who put their full personality into their performance. They are fun and positive and being in their presence just plain feels good. Their songs on the album “Sunrise” are about taking a break, playing a song, and doing what they can to make things feel alright. Their sound can range from country to folk to reggae, traditional bluegrass to jam band. It will all make you want to dance and move and come back for more. Their music live will make you want to dance, but playing it in your car with the windows down will make your mind wander off into the festivals and fun times that we long for. Sunrise is now out on all digital platforms, and if you’d like to see Highly Likely live you can check them out at one of their upcoming shows:
8/21: Birds of a Feather Festival
9/11: SawTerro Music Fest at Dead Low Brewing
9/11: Northern Kentucky Music Festival at Devou Park Band Shell
9/18: Lazy Jam Music Fest (Hartsville, IN)