A Big Yes and a small no
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A Big Yes and a small no

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"Dope Pop:A Big Yes...and a small no"

“Is that the hippest pop band you’ve ever seen in your life?,” a winterbearded friend asked me after the hour-long set at Lakeside Lounge on Saturday.

You know, it really was. Of course, that’s only if you’re willing to concede the “pop” label to a band that’s roots lie somewhere in between ’70s Miles fusion and alternarock. To be sure, if one of them newfangled indieblogs with high traffic reviewed this weekend’s A BIG YES…and a small no show and linked to a couple tracks, Kevin Kendrick’s cellular telephone may never stop ringing.

Archived photo by Cat Horton
Kendrick’s the impressive driving force behind the fluid band and a commanding figure front and center, an interesting diction choice on my part considering his physical stature aligns more closely with that of a halogen lamp. On this night, the classically trained vibraphonist’s 30th birthday, all six of his old bandmates from the tragically underrated Fat Mama joined him “on stage” for a show following a five-year layoff (as well as Big Yes/Small No vocalist Moira Meltzer-Cohen).

And just when you think you’re gonna go to a show and have a decent night, along comes a band that sneaks up and fucking floors you. Read on for more…

Kendrick seemed genuinely appreciative to be playing with his old Fat Mama bandmates, some of which still play regularly in this new, more pop-sensible outfit. Joining him for an evening of well-written, accessible songs and what I can only describe as Lou Reed-inspired verse was Brett Joseph on tenor sax and Jon Gray on trumpet, Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Erik Deutsch on electric piano, Jonti Siman on bass, and Sir Joe Russo on drums.

(As a brief aside, I’ve now seen Russo in maybe six different bands, and I’m convinced he can make even my least favorite music enjoyable. He sat next to the glass wall separating him from passers-by on Avenue B, and I wonder how many people knew they were walking by one of the best drummers on the planet).

Kendrick’s material takes you completely by surprise: There’s no real normalcy nor comfort zones anywhere in the music or the lyrics. That’s why I laugh at the self-proclaimed and critically-acclaimed “pop” label. Kendrick takes chances in both aspects, and the end result is an odd, almost foreign, beauty that manifests itself in narrative songs like Manic When I’m Around You, This Doesn’t Feel Like Goodbye and What a Fucking Mess (This Turned Out To Be).

Hopefully your computer shows this video a bit lighter than it comes out on my work one, but here’s a little clip of This Doesn’t Feel Like Goodbye that I’ve watched about 10 times and can’t stop singing. Two more follow below…

I’ve been a huge fan of Milt Jackson for a long time, so I’m already on recoil and ready to spring up when the vibes-fronted Big Yes hits town. But there’s something special about instrumental experimentation and seeing new musical combinations, and if you’ve never seen a pop band fronted by a vibraphonist, you’ll never get another chance like this one. This is the goods.

There’s a reason Kendrick tags the band with his “I mean, it’s pop music…but it’s dope” label. Because it is. And if these guys ever come across your computer or your iPod or your hometown rock club, make some time to take in this great band. - Glide.com

""7 out of 10""

A BIG YES…and a small no are many bands in one. Not in terms of personnel, you understand (though with six core members and double that contributing to this album in all, they’re hardly the most slightly staffed band around), but stylistically, their debut tip-toes schizophrenically through jazz, pop, indie and ska with the comfort of an outfit who’ve been playing their trade for a decade or two but the vibrancy of one only just getting started. The likes of “I’m Always Manic (When I’m Around You)” and “Faded Away” are playful, smile-on-my-face brass-tinged pop with a nod in the direction of They Might Be Giants, in contrast to the slow-burning indie-rock of the title track and the plaintive sigh of “Looking Over My Shoulder“‘s glockenspiel-speckled folk. Star of the show, however, is the mischievous “Composure”, in particular the suave Kevin Kendrick’s wry wordplay ("You need closure / So I’m proposing / If you keep composure / I’ll keep composing") and the pass-it-along instrumental fugues in between. “This Doesn’t Quite Feel Like Goodbye” can’t quite cut it with the rest and at just under half-an-hour Jesus That Looks Terrible on You is one of those pesky albums reviewers can’t decided whether to prefix with mini-, but its such a genuine delight to hear a band experimenting fruitfully and having fun that that’s an easy issue to forgive.
- Pop Matters

""I love this album""

CD Review: A Big Yes and A Small No, "Jesus That Looks Terrible on You"

I meant to write about this a while ago, but never got around to it. I really love this album, in an almost irrational way. It's poppy and melodic and fun, but that in itself is nothing special. What makes this album great is its clever lyrics that teeter on the brink of novelty, but sustain multiple listenings without wearing out the joke.

I am a huge dork for wordplay, and they've totally hooked me with the album's title, which could be parsed thusly: Jesus [exclamaition] that looks terrible on you. But in fact, they're actually addressing Jesus the man as a subject. Brown robes are out, apparently.

These guys are huge dorks [said with love] as well, though, which is perhaps why I like them so much. Unafraid to be jubilant in their compositions -- which is rare for a Brooklyn band in this day and age, Matt & Kim aside -- they embrace a variety of styles, including the dreaded ska. Don't get me wrong, they're not a ska band, but they do employ that nasty two-tone beat in a few songs ... as well as some horns.

My favorite song on the album has to be "Composure," which you can hear on the band's MySpace page. A rolling ballad narrated by a man almost unhinged by his emotions. The lyrics keep driving forward, employing a sort of musical enjambment, each sung line overflowing into the next, and almost leaving behind the rest of the band.

Anyway, their internet presence is almost nil, but they are playing a few local shows in the coming weeks (they actually played last night): Pianos April 24, and Union Hall May 15. - AM New York

""5 Stars""


By Kayode Kendall

How can a band be so charming, witty, and mean-spirited all at the same time?

There’s nothing I like more when it comes to alt-pop bands than a sharp sense of humor to compliment the musical stylings. From the moment A Big yes and a Small No’s debut begins, you can’t help but be drawn in by the bouncy, whimsical combination of acoustic guitar, trumpets, keyboard, and vibraphone, followed by the unbridled silliness of the opening lyric (“Yesterday, I robbed a bank and blew it all on flowers”). It’s this coy charm and wit that immediately hooks you in, as things only get more absurd. “I’m Always Manic (When I’m Around You)” certainly qualifies for one of the weirder love songs in recent memory, as lead singer Kevin Kendrick offers up more off-the-wall lyrics; “like starting a bloodless coup/ the movement’s on and the revolution is you”. It’s cute and disturbing at the same time.

As an album, Jesus That Looks Terrible On You definitely aims to be clever and even a little satirical, making for a collection of satisfying songs. Slightly mean-spirited in its lyrics, “Composure” is still a delightful piano-driven duet with background vocalist Moira Meltzer-Cohen, while “Jesus That Looks Terrible On You” is more of a somber, rock-heavy pseudo ballad. Oddly enough, it’s followed up by the boisterous “Faded Away”, a throwback to the uptempo beatnik surf-rock of the 60s. The band throws listeners for a loop yet again, however, with “If You Won’t Beg”. Deliciously seedy in its faux-romanticism, the song evokes feelings of being out at make-out point, and all the awkward emotions that could come with it.

Normally I can’t stand when an album is as brief as Jesus That Looks Terrible On You (boasting only eight songs, with a few coming in below the three-minute mark), but the quality of the music goes a long way. Every track is immensely enjoyable, with smart and funny lyrics, and well-crafted melodies. It’s a feel-good album that’s not afraid to take listeners down into the dumps.
5 - popsyndicate.com

"Yes, I really got kidnapped in Colombia"

Listen to Kevin Kendrick tell the story of his kidnapping and attempted rape in Colombia.

http://smartassradio.com/?p=1112 - Smart Ass Radio

""A Sure-Fire College-Radio Classic""



"i'm always manic (when i'm around you)" || a big yes and a small no || 2008
Another song that falls into this "college pop" genre that I discussed in the previous post.

This is a surefire college radio classic. The first time I heard this tune, I complimented our station's music director on what I thought was the best song she'd chosen since taking the position four months ago.

College radio is built for tunes like this one. You'd never hear this on MTV, or on your local Top 40 station, but for college radio, it's a superhit. (If you're looking for another great example of college radio superhit, check out the song "Beard Lust" by Natalie Portman's Shaved Head from just a few posts back.)

Another tune that falls somewhere between indie rock and ska, "Manic" leaves you feeling sugary and delightful. It almost sounds like a tune that would have played in the background during an episode of Ren & Stimpy. I could just be saying that, however, because it makes me think of angular furniture, cookouts, and shag carpeting, but in a totally cool way.

If I were making compilations of college radio classics about 10 years from now, I'd include this track on my first release. I think it's a perfect milestone for this moment in modern music, and a song that should be tucked in the backs of anyone's mind who works in college radio during this era.

A final thought: The title of their album will make you smile.

- Maxwell K's Traxx

"Singer Says A Big Yes to Indie Rock"


A Big Yes and a small no
By Emily Hulme
• A Big Yes and a small no is at Spike Hill Jan. 29 and Union Hall Feb. 20.

When you use a phrase like, “usually when you get mugged,” casually in conversation, you’ve probably had an eventful life.

“I’ve been mugged a bunch of times, and usually if you chase them they’ll throw your ID back,” says Kevin Kendrick of the Brooklyn indie pop outfit A Big Yes and A Small No. He was matter-of-factly explaining how he had recently lost his cell phone in a mugging, the first of many event-filled anecdotes he would share over the course of the interview.

In the past 10 years, Kendrick has been kidnapped and nearly raped in Colombia; been arrested and acquitted for assaulting a police officer (a case of mistaken identity); developed and then kicked a heroin habit. Oh yeah, and he went from a sideman on various classical and jazz projects to the frontman of a rock band.

The tumultuous of his life and his musical journey are not unrelated.

Kendrick grew up playing classical music and attended high school at the famed Interlochen Arts Academy. But by the time he got to college, Kendrick was burned out.
Instead of practicing, Kendrick was drinking and goofing off, like any normal college student. The incident in Colombia, which took place the summer before his junior year, snapped him out of his malaise and back into music.

“After Columbia, it was like, ‘Life’s too short, this isn’t what I really love,’ ” Kendrick says.

He told his teacher he wanted to study vibraphone and joined the instrumental jazz outfit Fat Mama. This is when Kendrick picked up a heroin habit that forced another epiphany as Fat Mama was falling apart.

“I was too much of a mess. I could barely take care of myself let alone organize a band,” says Kendrick.

But heroin did allow Kendrick to admit his desire to write pop music, something he had long kept secret, even from himself.

Over time, he got clean and he put together the band A Big Yes and A Small No. They released their first album early last year, “Jesus, That Looks Terrible on You.”

The album is a pastiche of popular styles — including ska, jazz and folk — with wordplay inspired as much by hip-hop MCs as the indie rockers whose ranks Kendrick has finally joined. Having finally told his classical friends that he wants to “strum a guitar and sing into a microphone and sing songs about love,” he could care less about fitting into any one particular genre.

“It was like, ‘You know what? I like ska,’ ” Kendrick says.

Tags:A Big Yes and a small noKevin Kendrick Posted by Emily Hulme on January 25, 2009 4:53 PM

"Top Live Shows"

Time Out New York / Issue 695 : Jan 22–28, 2009
Top live show
A Big Yes and a Small No

Photograph: Rose Callahan
Union Hall; Thu 22

A too-clever moniker is a red flag for overliterate art rock. A Big Yes and a Small No? You’d better believe it’s all about jazzy vibe flourishes and darkly comic, deadpan lyrics. A vehicle for wordy relationship musings by multi-instrumentalist Kevin Kendrick, the Brooklyn group enjoys contributions from a loose cast of minor jam-band associates, including drummer Joe Russo (Benevento/Russo Duo), bassist Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), guitarist Scott Metzger (Rana, American Babies) and a handful of others. So it’s also no wonder that the songs on the band’s debut album, Jesus That Looks Terrible on You, are reminiscent of Phish’s poppier material: goofy, intricate and intriguing.

That’s not to say that Big Yes will play until dawn, noodling ad nauseam. The band might draw players and ideas from the improvisational jazz-rock scene, but its material is mostly through-composed pop. So there will be three-minute retro rockers like “Faded Away” and slow-burning breakup songs like “What a Fucking Mess This Turned Out to Be.” Kendrick’s intentionally dorky, desperate vocals (think Spring Awakening) preside over all, as he spits out matter-of-fact lines about how love makes you crazy. “Yesterday, I robbed a bank and blew it all on flowers,” he sings on “I’m Always Manic (When I’m Around You).” Bat-shit insanity never sounded so romantic.

See more Music»

— Cristina Black

- Time Out New York

"A Big Know"

DEEP INSIDE A BIG YES a small no's singer/vibraphonist Kevin Kendrick was a pop craftsmen dying to escape. He only had to survive a kidnapping in Cartagena, Colombia (while surveying their cumbia scene), a heroin addiction that contributed to the demise of his old band Fat Mama, and a near-career in jazz to realize his calling with the Brooklyn chamber pop quartet.
"I was raised to believe that if you weren't playing classical music or straight ahead jazz, than what you were doing was somehow not legit," says Kendrick, from his Crown Heights, NY home.
After matriculating from Bristol College in England with a graduate degree in composition, his post-graduate goal was to make "intelligent, interesting pop songs" ranging across genres. He returned to New York and ended up hooking back up with his Fat Mama mates. He played with a lot of people he says, but no one else really shared his vision.
Indeed, it's the subtle musical touches and Kendrick's keen lyrical wit that keep the twee-tinged tracks on jesus that looks terrible on you (Thorough Left) interesting. Like a lot of great pop from Burt Bacharach to Brian Wilson, the virtuosity is designed to be hidden, and seem effortless. The eight-song debut flounces from bubbly 2-tone pulse ("I'm Always Manic (When I'm Around You)") to shimmery atmospheric pop (the title track) and jazzy caberet pop ("If You Won't Beg"), all delivered with Kendrick's arch clever coo- like Stephen Merrit sweet talking Stuart Murdoch.
"ipod shuffle is so much the way people listen to music," says Kendrick. "You don't necessarily have to listen to several different bands to get [variety]." - CHRIS PARKER, Blurt Magazine - Blurt Magazine (formerly Harp)

"Ten Best Albums of 2008"

It’s that time of year again. What are the best and worst albums of 2008? The Pop Syndicate music critics take a moment to list their favorite and least favorite CDs of the year. What were you favorites?

Kayode Kendall

Best of 2008 – Music

Portishead – Third: The simultaneous feeling of excitement and apprehension brought me to my knees when I heard Portishead was finally putting out a new album. While it doesn’t quite compare to the brilliance of Dummy, it’s still a remarkable effort for a band putting out their first album in eleven years. Beth Gibbons’ vocals are still as hauntingly beautiful as ever, complimenting elements of psychedelic rock, trip-hop and techno.

Fat Jon – Repaint Tomorrow: One of the best things I brought back from Japan, Repaint Tomorrow is just a fantastic musical journey; a mixture of instrumental hip-hop, jazz and funk, that stirs the emotions with every track.

A Big Yes And A Small No – Jesus That Looks Terrible On You: Delightfully silly from start to finish. There’s this innocence and bygone-era charm to the music and vocals, tinged with mean-spirited wit and sarcasm. The “poetry lounge in the 50s” vibe is surprisingly effective.

Black Milk – Tronic: Arguably, the best hip-hop album of the year. At least the best hip-hop album I’ve heard, anyway. Black’s ability to change his style of production from old-school soul samples to moody synth-pop inspired beats is nothing short of brilliant. Lyrically, he’s made huge steps, improving vastly from anything he had done on Popular Demand.

Zo and Tigallo – Love The 80s!: As Zo! And Tigallo, producer Lorenzo Ferguson and rapper/singer Phonte tackle some of our favorite 80s hits, and put their own unique twist on them.

Invincible – Shapeshifters: I’m reminded of two things when I listen to this album; I never did pick up the Jean Grae/9th Wonder album, Jeanius, and the fact there just aren’t enough females in rap. There certainly aren’t enough capable of the level of lyricism showcased by Detroit emcee, Invincible. Her skills are razor-sharp, and her subject matter is mature and thought-provoking, speaking on politics, the ills of society, and what ultimately needs to change for people to move forward.

Supreme Beings Of Leisure – 11i: I’ll keep saying this until someone listens. . . .Get Geri Soriano-Lightwood to do a Bond theme already! The third album from the LA duo is thankfully more reminiscent of their debut, back when they were still a quartet. Still, it’s nice to hear them try new things, taking their chill, electronica/lounge sound to a new level.

Maroon 5 – Call and Response; The Remix Album: The band collaborates with producers and artists from hip-hop, indie rock and techno, to create some pretty impressive remixes of songs from their two albums. What I found most interesting was the way the new music actually made me appreciate the original songs, and Maroon 5 as a band in general. Their music has always lent itself to the kind of versatility that’s being presented on Call and Response.

Janelle Monae – Metropolis; The Chase Suite: There’s really no way to categorize the music here, other than to say it’s damn good!

J’Davey – The Beauty In Distortion/Land of the Last: Jack Devy and Brooke D’Leau are on some Prince and the Revolution shit here, and I ain’t mad at ‘em!

- Pop Syndicate (http://www.popsyndicate.com/site/story/best_of_2008_music/)


Jesus That Looks Terrible On You- May, 2008
This record has received much radio play in the U.S. and Europe. It was CMJ (College Music Journal) as "The 14th most-added band to college playlists in July, 2008"



After surviving a kidnapping and attempted rape in Colombia, an acquittal for felony assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer, and a heroin addiction that would have made Danny Boyle uncomfortable, vibraphonist/singer Kevin Kendrick finally realized that life was too short to NOT start the indie-pop band that he'd always dreamed of. So, in the summer of 2006, he formed A Big Yes and a small no with the help of his former Fat Mama band mates Jonathan Goldberger on guitar, Joe Russo on drums, Erik Deutsch on keys, and Jonti Siman on bass. He then held a funeral for his orchestral and jazz upbringing at the now-shuttered CBGB's, thus beginning his career as an indie-pop frontman.
With a wide range of influences born out of such an interesting musical background, and a cast of players deep in the New York Downtown Jazz scene, (Jonathan plays in many groups including both the DAHA and Blood Orange Big Bands that feature such luminaries as Jim Black, Briggan Krauss of Sex Mob, and Adam Levy of Norah Jones' band, while Erik Deutsch plays in the Charlie Hunter Trio and, of Mr. Bungle Fame, Trevor Dunn's band) A Big Yes and a small no have garnered much praise for their debut release Jesus That Looks Terrible On You. Called "the hippest pop-band you've ever heard in your life" by Village Voice music critic Richard Gehr, and "like great pop music from Burt Bacharach to Brian Wilson, the virtuosity is hidden, and designed to seem effortless" by Blurt Magazine, A Big Yes and a small no are getting a lot of radio play in both the U.S. and Europe and looking forward to finding a good home for their second record, which they plan on recording this fall.

Press by Jeff Kilgour, of Tijuana Gift Shop, at tijuanagiftshop.net
and managed by Peter Costello, at