THEY KNOW A Big Yes and a small no

 

Sounds great, “looks terrible.”

BY CHRIS PARKER

 

Deep inside A Big Yes and a small no’s singer/vibraphonist
Kevin Kendrick was a pop craftsman 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 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  (issued May 13 on Through Left Records) 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 cabaret pop (“If You Won’t Beg”), all delivered with
Kendrick’s arch clever coo — like Stephin Merritt 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].”

 

[Photo Credit: Rose
Callahan
]

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