Be Calm Honcho
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Be Calm Honcho

San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

San Francisco, California, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Alternative Indie

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This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jul
12
Be Calm Honcho @ Third Space

Davis, California, United States

Davis, California, United States

Jul
10
Be Calm Honcho @ Bombs Away Cafe

Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Corvallis, Oregon, United States

Jul
09
Be Calm Honcho @ Sam Bond's Garage

Eugene, Oregon, United States

Eugene, Oregon, United States

Music

Press


Sometimes in life, you find yourself on Craigslist responding to an ad to become an unpaid music critic. It happens to the best of us. And on my quest to listen to the perfect sound, the sound of a chicken bone being thrown from a moving car and hitting an empty tin can, I was ‘hired’ as this music critic and thrown the first full length album, Honcho Dreams by the band, Be Calm Honcho. I assure you they sound nothing like a chicken bone being thrown from any vehicle, moving or not. But from the beginning, they had something that captured my attention. From the warbly backing horns to the way the band coheres around the singer’s voice, it just works, and works well. Having a rough day? Crank up some audio California sun.



Shannon sings in a way that seems to me like the sound of someone smiling. Ever call someone on the phone and simply know that they are smiling on the other end? Not laughing not even a perceptible ‘sound’, but somehow you are able to tell that the person on the other end of the line has a smile on their face. This album, Honcho Dreams, is that phone conversation. From “Sea of X’s” in which she sounds like a rough and tumble Maria Rainer, who played out the rest of the war years in a cabaret, to – the rest of the album, the way she throws out great descriptions that bring out a twinge of envy in the writer in me, like describing the smell of peaches rotting in the sun-room. The lyrics are light and blown out like bubbles to kind of float away on the wind created by the rest of the band. Grab those bubbles, people. The way she teases out the lyrics, such as when she sings of ‘the co-smos’ in “Mean Pack”, and a dozen other examples I won’t bore you to death with writing – the fun is in discovering these gems for yourself, the little line breaks in the lyrics or the manner in which she sings a chorus. Simply put, it’s just a joy to listen to this album, and it’s worth listening to a few times to find these nuances. It’s as if she’s playing a piano with her own voice, just kind of tapping away at the keys for her own amusement – anyone who wants to sit in for a few moments is invited to do so. It’s sang lyrically light with words that are often darker than the voice in which they are sung.



To continue the comparison to Maria Rainer, it’s as if Shannon combined the styling of Julie Andrews with Janis Joplin. Is it cliche to compare one San Franciscan singer with another? Fuck it. I don’t care – it’s an awesome comparison and I’m sticking to it. If you disagree, you are wrong. Unless your name is Shannon and you are the lead singer of Be Calm Honcho, in which case – well, okay – you do not sound like Julie Andrews and Janis Joplin had a baby (hey, this is San Francisco, readers). But you do sound like you love singing and you love California (though your song title also hints at this love, also – so it was not a major leap to make on my part). I refer readers to the song titled “I Love CA”.



Let’s put it this way, dear reader (and I do feel like we’ve gone on a wee musical journey up to this point – I feel I can call you all dear readers by now) – I started listening to this band and immediately liked ‘em enough to google ‘em and discover they were local to the bay area. This made me curious enough to put them into the site Bandsintown to see if they were going to be playing any local shows. And from there I was placed in the unusual position of either reviewing them this last Saturday, or seeing them perform live at a benefit show raising funds to fight the Ellis Act (God damn the money-grubbin’ bastards!) at the El Rio. I chose to see them live. And they were good – just good, but that might have had more to do with some local political assistant pontificating loudly on his beer created soap box while the band was playing. When I asked him to please be quieter so that I could listen, he called me entitled and a perfect example of what was going wrong with all of San Francisco. So I say this – to a shitbag political monkey unlikely to read this review: you are a loud-mouthed jackass. To the band: I love your album, Honcho Dreams and will see you when you next play in the city next month. I’m looking forward to the show. To the editor who hired me: can I get reimbursed for that show? To the reader of this review: go and buy the album when it comes out. It’s good. Real good.

9/10 - BUZZ & HOWL


veryone meet Be Calm Honcho, a one-year-old S.F. band about which you may wish to know. Begin with "Step Out," below, the first taste of the band's upcoming album, Honcho Dreams, out June 24 on Crossbill Records. You will hear: reverby guitars, lush vocals from Shannon Harney, minor-chord pensiveness, and some rootsy rock-pop resplendence. It's all very charming and goes down without a fuss. Recorded at a house-studio in Stinson Beach by Jason Quever (of Papercuts fame), Honcho Dreams seem likely to land in a similarly reverberant, spacious, pleasant, but not quite as melancholy space as Papercuts itself. In a cute video introducing themselves, the members of Be Calm Honcho seem pretty thoroughly stoked on life and playing music with each other. Also: calm. Which, we suppose, is easy when you're recording an album at a gorgeous house in Stinson Beach. Anyway! The music is here, listen. - SF Weekly


For a band whose origins can be tracked back to a raggedy attempt at a haircut, there is nothing disheveled about San Francisco alt rockers Be Calm Honcho. Honcho Dreams, released on Crossbill Records, does not have a strand, or in this case note, out of place. Singer Shannon Harney, the precipitator of said ill-executed hairstyle at the sacrifice of keyboard player Alex Weston’s coif, is captivating on this album with her wailing, snarly soulful pipes. Harney’s purposeful vocals combined with Be Calm Honcho’s aggressive and passive styles make for an enthralling introduction.

“Step Out” opens this record with a dreamy guitar interlude before letting the tumbling drums snap this track back to reality. Harney’s vocals explode and cower into apprehensive mode before hitting back with another snarl by track’s end. “Mean Pack” finds Harney taking on the role of a slam poet. Throughout this sneaky, aggressive jam, Harney ratchets up the bellowing sing talk with each pointed statement that culminates in the elongated enunciation of “we are a mean pack.” There are no vocal frills, but the purpose of each syllable is palpable.

“Pretty On The West Coast” builds upon the attempt the large sound of “Mean Pack.” This Golden State tribute starts out subtle enough, but becomes awash in boozy brass. Harney’s familiar soul singer inflections feel right at home here.

“Go Outside” tries to capitalize on the sentimentalism projected on “Pretty On The West Coast,” but for the most part, its light is hidden under lazy guitar. The track recovers well with a triumphant vocal and thrashing final minute that salvages this track that sullenly attempts to encourage the listener to go outside. A breath fresh air this song is not, but it’s not a noxious aroma either.

“Jacob’s Revenge” launches into a surf rock fervor after a sneaky, tip-toe bass gracefully ushers in this track. Harney matches the arc of the swinging pendulum that is the opening minute. Abruptly, it catches a monster wave of bass and drums that crash to the shore of another swaying interlude. This pattern repeats before finally giving into a receding finale. For its rapid rise and fall throughout, this track regains the stride lost with the drowsy “Go Outside.”

Be Calm Honcho can bank on the irrepressible Shannon Harney’s vocal prowess. Not lost in the wake of her sonic blast are the captivating hooks of varying degrees of intensity. Honcho Dreams does not play it safe with one tried and true style. This album ranges from aggressive to docile with different points of that spectrum occurring throughout. Honcho Dreams is just as ready to strike as it is to recoil. Be Calm Honcho make a strong debut that does not lean heavily towards one style over another.

- See more at: http://inyourspeakers.com/content/review/271-be-calm-honcho-honcho-dreams-06182014#sthash.WT0U51yG.dpuf - In Your Speakers


There are a lot of songs about California. There are even more songs about loving California. We get it. California rules, everywhere else drools. No one over on the West Coast is freezing their tits off in the winter or dripping in sweaty humid sadness in the summertime. It's surprising how many bands talk about loving this place in the most generic ways. (Looking at you Best Coast: "We've got the ocean / Got the babes / Got the sun / We've got the waves." Well no shit, Bethany Cosentino.)

The music landscape for songs about California—and lately, most songs with guitars about anything—consists of unintelligible lyrics that are blown out with reverb, consequently sounding like the band is trapped in a well with a bunch of expensive pedals. But with lyrics like, "The girls descended down from the clouds of San Francisco, window drinking limbs for better tracing pelicans," Bay Area-based quartet BE CALM HONCHO shake the mold and win the award for "Best-Song-About-California-That-Actually-Has-Good-Lyrics," which is a fun award I just came up with.

Anyway, Noisey is excited to premiere the band's new video below for "I Love California," the single from their debut album Honcho Dreams out June 24 via Crossbill Records. The video features a bunch of goddess-like babes in pastels sitting on rocks and a dude shredding guitar in the middle of an inner tube in a lake. There's a lot of singing while riding bikes in rad outfits and dudes wearing capes on skateboards. If you're in the Bay Area, be sure to catch this eclectic bunch at The Rickshaw Stop on July 2 for their record release show with Noisey alums, The She's. - NOISEY


Be Calm Honcho is a San Francisco-based band whose origin story begins with a haircut. An amateur haircut was traded for a keyboard, a bunch of other things happened, and the rest is history. It’s been more than a year since that haircut, and now the foursome is gearing up for the release of their debut LP on Crossbill Records later this month.

Before that happens, we’ve got the full advance stream of the album, Honcho Dreams. Falling somewhere between dive-bar-stomp and showtune surf, the album should have you swaying back and forth as choreographed improv dancers follow you around. The sweetly dawning track Pretty On The West Coast opens with the line, “I think you are so cool.” Ditto, Be Calm Honcho. Stream all of Honcho Dreams below. - CMJ


“Be Calm Honcho mixes the warmth of West Coast pop with a heavy dose of jangly indie rock and a pinch of bluesy soul for a sound that’s nothing short of magical.”
Artist: Be Calm Honcho
Album: Honcho Dreams
Genre: Rock
RIYL: KT Tunstall, Rachael Yamagata, Veruca Salt

This must have been love at first sight, because this quartet sounds like they’ve been playing together a lot of years instead of hitting their one-and-a-half year anniversary this summer. Be Calm Honcho mixes the warmth of West Coast pop with a heavy dose of jangly indie rock and a pinch of bluesy soul for a sound that’s nothing short of magical. Their debut album, Honcho Dreams, is an eclectic mix of sounds and influences that all seem to come together with the calming energy of lead singer Shannon Harney.
It’s clear from the start that Harney’s voice was built for this type of record, one that will showcase a rare gift of possessing a velvety tone that still cuts clear through everything else going on in the background. It’s magnetic, and one of those voices that can shapeshift from a whisper to a growl in a millisecond. The raw moments are so rock’n’roll, and the contrast between this the sultry soulfulness of the quieter ones are only outdone by the liquid honey of her natural vocal tone. The best direct comparison I have for this is to someone like KT Tunstall, who also possesses a natural ease with rhythm and tone.
“Step Out” is an appropriately titled lead track, where our first listen to Be Calm Honcho introduces us to all of the highly capable players, who marry their sounds like a veteran band that’s been playing together for years. “Pretty on the West Coast” leans, unsurprisingly, heavily toward west coast beach rock/pop with a relaxed groove and languid vocal track that drips with soul. And the addition of the horns is a wise one that adds depth and character to the arrangement.
“Go Outside” hits that sweet spot of injecting blistering guitars with a strong and ultra-confident Harney. It’s the perfect balance of restraint that eventually gives way to an ultra-satisfying climax of pounding drums and a wall of guitar. There’s a similarly satisfying build to the track “Each Day,” wherein an impassioned Harney sings in perfectly raw form to match the snarling, dirty guitar work that complements the tone of the song. The quirky “Jacob’s Revenge” is another charmer, but it’s the final cut, “I Love California,” that leaves a triumphant last impression. This song definitely serves as a perfect summation for all the things Be Calm Honcho does well, and everyone shines in this arrangement.
What stands out on Be Calm Honcho’s debut album is this band’s ability to translate varied and differing influences into something that sounds fluid and makes total sense. It’s not a hodgepodge of notes, but rather a curious and hypnotic mix of melodies that ebbs and flows easily from one track to the next. This is interesting stuff, and all of the players on this record contribute to the success of Honcho Dreams. So sit back. Be calm. Let Be Calm Honcho put you in the right mindset and drift into their world for a while. - indiemusic.com


Shannon Harney isn’t one of those singers who stares at her toes and mumbles sad truths into an overeffected microphone. Rather, as the Be Calm Honcho frontwoman, Harney brings theatrics, confidence and, most of all, engagement. For her, live music is all about the audience-band connection.

“That’s a real, energetic conduit,” she said. “It’s not a passive thing to come out to a show. You invest your time, and I want to use it with you.”

It appears to be working. Her onstage antics—jogging in place, playfully groping her boyfriend bassist, making intense eye contact with seemingly everyone in the room—have garnered a loyal following in the band’s home base of San Francisco, as well as at Harney’s alma mater of UC Davis. She recognizes her regulars and interacts with them even more.

“That’s what I want to cultivate: a group of people who just want to be in a room together and let expression flow freely,” she said.

But folks probably wouldn’t keep returning if they weren’t struck by Be Calm Honcho’s sound. Songs move from upbeat indie rock to West Coast pop, all with superwordy, deliberate lyrics. Harney’s diction is thoughtful and important—in her everyday speech and into the mic—and sometimes she breaks down into image-heavy spoken-word poetry. It’s no surprise to anyone who knew Harney at UC Davis—she frequently emceed open-mic nights and, as a commencement speaker, performed spoken word at graduation.

Though she’s been involved with music since high school, Harney’s life took a major turn last year as she was conducting clinical research at UC San Francisco, after graduating from UC Davis as a pre-med student. She had a two-year contract and planned to attend graduate school. Then she was laid off and forced to re-evaluate.

“It was an awesome experience—dealing with a lot of anxiety about the future, the idea of inadequacy, and where I was going to find my balance and security again,” she said.

So she made her musical projects the top priority and formed Be Calm Honcho last January. The band’s debut album, Honcho Dreams, is set for release on June 24 on the Davis-based Crossbill Records. It’s also available now on vinyl via the experimental Santa Cruz distribution project Feedbands.

The collection showcases Harney’s velvety vocals, penchant for nouns and adoration for California. Seriously, there’s a track called “I <3 California.” The beach, the sun, the ocean—California’s ecological landscape is a major source of inspiration.

Of course, Harney is also inspired by songwriting, like that of the Mountain Goats, Joanna Newsom and Regina Spektor. She used to describe her solo style as “forest folk.” But the rest of Be Calm Honcho approach music from different backgrounds. Bassist Alex Weston played trombone in the UC Davis California Aggie Marching Band-uh!, but also digs technical, complicated math rock. Drummer Mikey Carrera was trained in precision as a drum-line kid. And guitarist Jacob Landry brings a bluesy, country-rock edge from Lafayette, Louisiana.

Still, there’s common ground. They’re mostly 20-somethings living in the San Francisco Bay Area, wondering how to find fulfillment, lead a balanced life and fight societal norms in the most productive way. It’s esoteric and maybe idealistic, but it’s relatable. And that’s what Harney wants to convey.

“A lot of the things I’m talking about are ultimately empathetic themes,” Harney said. “Like, ’I fucking know, dude. Love is really hard. Anxiety is superchallenging. Friendships can just rock you.’ There’s nothing like someone saying, ’I get it. I get you.’” - Sacramento News & Review


San Francisco-based band Be Calm Honcho makes easy, breezy indie-pop that’ll make you anxious for hazy summer, and saying “fuck you” to all that work you should be doing. At times, the quartet echoes sounds of classic blues bands, with guitarist Alex’s jazzy solos and lead singer Shannon’s powerhouse vocals, that channel the smoldering, mystical stylings of Alex Winston. It's a wonderfully dynamic sound that you have to hear for yourself.

Lucky for you, we've got the premiere of “Step Out,” a dreamy, upbeat jam about trying not to take life too seriously. Be Calm Honcho combines garage-rock riffs with Shannon’s strong, clear croon to make a polished, yet raw and personal track. Peep “Step Out” below and keep your eyes peeled for their debut album, Honcho Dreams, out June 24th on Crossbill Records! - BUST magazine


Be Calm Honcho is SoCal cool with its first full length, Honcho Dreams. The quartet hails from the Bay Area, the San Fernando Valley, and Lafayette, L.A.—a fact that vocalist Shannon Harney, drummer Mikey Carrera, and multi-instrumentalists Jacob Landry and Alex Weston seem to be very proud of. The Crossbill Records release is a hodge-podge of beach rock, indie-pop, and rock ’n’ roll that dabbles in psychedelia. Such a mix can hail positive results, but in this case makes for an incohesive record.

“Step Out” is a crisp, clever opener and a call to action. Harney sings, “Take your dress off/It’s your goddamn house/Make a mess of it all.” Her vocal quality is immediately striking—ranging from soft and coy to Alanis Morissette at her angriest.

“Each Day” has a blues-rock flavor with a steady, prominent bass guitar groove. The blues comes out in its somewhat dreary lyrics: “Get your fill while you can ’cause there’s no takeaway/And when you’re called to the stands what will you say?/You were fighting the good fight this time/This game.” This track is also a call, but it’s the other side of the coin.

Other tracks explore mediocrity through many different lenses. “Mean Pack” attempts to be poetry set to music, but Be Calm Honcho forgot that it’s not Bjork or Beck. “Brimming” floats along, carried by a wind made of long tones from horns and a web of instrumentation, but it’s a bit underwhelming. For all its layers and trappings, it could be infinitely more engrossing.

Meanwhile, “What We Have Made” cuts to the chase. Harney calls, “I like you more than everybody without a doubt,” and, “All I want to do is touch your body, baby, and sleep all afternoon in each other’s light.” Frankness is often commendable, but in this case, it’s distractingly on-the-nose.

One of the most successful songs, “Jacob’s Revenge” dishes out punchy surf rock juxtaposed with breakdowns borrowed from the Alabama Shakes. This and closing track “I Love CA” are high points in a record that falters in a few spots. Be Calm Honcho didn’t go the obvious route with “I Love CA,” staying as far away from the Beach Boys’ characteristic sound as possible. The track features a chorus and a spoken-word story section throughout. Harney, accompanied by the gang, croons, “I love California like you do/I fall for it harder in the full moon/Meet me by the creek/I’ll be there all day/Wading in waist deep/Beneath the meteor display.” For once, the foursome’s layers and experimentation come together in all the right places.

Honcho Dreams’ mash-up of genre, style, and attitude makes the record a pleasant, sometimes perplexing journey, much like a dream itself. This West Coast quartet can crank out some gems (“Each Day”), but could stand to avoid certain traps. Be Calm Honcho, we get it. You really like being from California.

Note: Be Calm Honcho has since re-released Honcho Dreams with a new approach on several tracks, a changed-up tracklist, and a few other tweaks, resulting in a more cohesive record. The re-vamped version will be released June 24. - POP STACHE


The risk of injury runs high at a Be Calm Honcho concert — at least for the musicians onstage. “Part of what we have always done is somehow influenced by physical comedy,” says Shannon Harney. “We’ll throw a bass at each other. We’ll run around. We’ll trip over cables. We’re a serious band, but we’re not serious people.”
So far, the members of the genre-defying San Francisco outfit, who play Wednesday, April 22, at Bottom of the Hill, have managed to avoid any post-show emergency room visits, but these are early days.
Harney and her creative and romantic partner, Alex Weston, formed the band just two years ago, where she was a premed student at UC Davis. In that time, Be Calm Honcho released a debut album, “Honcho Dreams,” toured extensively and, in December, went through a significant lineup change that transformed the band from a quartet to a three-piece by replacing two musicians with multi-instrumentalist Michael Pettett.

“We essentially consolidated the instrumentation,” says Harney, 27, which in the jumble of influences the band displays on live favorites like “I Love California” and “Pretty on the West Coast” must require some considerable effort. There are traces of giddy ’60s pop and hoary ’70s blues rock, the eccentric singer-songwriters she used to see when her mom would take her to Lilith Fair every summer, and the spoken-word battles she would engage in as a young adult.
“Nothing I’m saying is an accident,” Harney says.

“Honcho Dreams” was recorded at the Panoramic House, a studio and living space in the hills above Stinson Beach that resembles a psychedelic-era castle. The band lived there as it recorded the album with engineer Jason Quever.
“There are stone walls, a six-story spiral staircase and bomb shelter that we used for recording reverb,” Harney says. “We wanted a full immersive environment. We just went out there and recorded and mixed that sucker.”
Earlier this year, the members of Be Calm Honcho gave up their day jobs to fully commit to their music. It hasn’t been easy dealing with the financial blow, especially with Harney and Weston facing the threat of an Ellis Act eviction at their home in the belly of the beast at Market and Guerrero.

“You’ve got to be flexible, particularly in this city,” says Harney. “We’re not devastated.”
That sense of civility extends to their personal relationship, which in other bands often leads to ugly Fleetwood Mac-style breakdowns.
“It’s an important layer to a relationship to get to have a creative project you both care about,” Harney says. “Maybe that’s a puppy or baby for some people. For us, it’s music.” - San Francisco Chronicle


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Be Calm Honcho is a trio of sugared, salty hams, living in San Francisco with a lumpy lunch sack of strange strengths. Born on the eve of 2013, Shannon, Alex, & Michael have been tenderly prying open the soft spots of rock ‘n’ roll and inserting a dreamy and toothsome rawness. They’ve pooled their geographic wizardry from the idle citrus groves and strip malls of the San Fernando Valley [Alex] and the lush Bay Area motherboard [Shannon & Mikey], and are now ramping up to the release of their first full-length album titled Honcho Dreams, which is set to be released on Crossbill Records this Summer.

In order to get the full Lifetime movie of the origins of Be Calm Honcho, one needs to whirlwind back a year or so ago when Shannon told Alex she knew how to cut a boy’s hair, so he came over for a cut and was made to wait outside while Shannon researched on the Internet how to do the thing she said she knew how to do, but did not. In exchange for the good intentioned but poorly executed cut, Alex let Shannon borrow his keyboard for a string of solo shows she was doing around Davis, CA. In time, Shannon transformed Alex into her boyfriend and the two of them moved on to San Francisco to further enjoy their love, and love for music.

Shortly after getting settled in San Fran, Alex was called upon to audition for a 7-piece rock band looking for someone who could juggle and play trombone. Naturally … he could do both. It’s at this part of the tale where Alex and Shannon meet Mikey and Jacob – who, unbeknownst to them at this time, will come to fully form what is now Be Calm Honcho.

One year into the project, BE CALM HONCHO is up to all kinds of good. A debut album out in spring 2014, a bunch of cool new outfits and polarizing opinions to propagate via video, dance & song and a pretty laid back attitude are on the menu for these kids, so eat up, this one’s on them.

Band Members