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College pals to toast new EP at White Water gig

By Sean Clancy

This article was published January 9, 2014 at 2:52 a.m.

little-rock-band-bombay-harambee-alexander-jones-from-left-trent-whitehead-kurt-delashmet-and-david-aspesi-celebrates-the-release-of-its-new-ep-with-a-show-tonight-at-white-water-tavern

Little Rock band Bombay Harambee — Alexander Jones (from left), Trent Whitehead, Kurt Delashmet and David Aspesi — celebrates the release of its new EP with a show tonight at White Water Tavern.

With a new year and a new album, 2014 is starting off right for Little Rock garage/ alt-rockers Bombay Harambee, which drops its debut six-song EP tonight with a White Water Tavern show. (Local faves Whale Fire and Colin vs. Adam are also on the bill.)

Bombay Harambee was formed in March after the breakup of The Tricks, the band of lead singer and guitarist Alexander Jones. Playing alongside Jones are bassist David Aspesi, drummer Kurt Delashmet and lead guitarist Trent Whitehead, who also plays in the roots-rock band Swampbird. The guys have known each other since their college days in Conway.

“We’re four guys who have played just about every genre in different groups,” Jones, 24, says. “This is just an amalgamation of that.”

And before we proceed much further we must ask, and we do so with slight trepidation because there is often a bit of unease when broaching such matters, but, ummm, what’s the deal with the name?

Jones says he learned with The Tricks that it’s good to have an easily Googleable name (yes, we just made that word up). “Bombay Harambee is supposed to sound sort of foreign, and what piqued our interest was ‘Harambee’ is the Kenyan motto for working together.”

That set well with the band’s hope of forming a sort of artistic collective, and “Bombay” just added to the moniker’s international flair.

The excellent EP, You Know Better, has actually been in the can for a while. The Harambee crew recorded it back in August with producer Jason Tedford at his Wolfman Studios in Little Rock.

“We hadn’t planned on a release, but it turned out better than we expected,” says Jones, who lists Nirvana, White Stripes, Pavement and Queens of the Stone Age among his influences. He’s also a fan of Tame Impala and would “mortgage my car” if he could only have seen the now-defunct LCD Soundsystem play.

You Know Better abounds with solid, indie-inspired song craft that features sly hooks and a pop edge amid its scrappy, low-fi buzz. It opens with the intriguing “Now or Never,” which has more time changes than a flight to New Zealand.

“We were trying to see if we could make a good pop song with changes in time signature,” Jones, the band’s main lyricist says. “We’re not writing lengthy stuff, just three- or four-minute songs with some good hooks. It’s pretty accessible music, but not overly simplistic.”

The churning, crunchy title cut, the amped-up “What Are We Waiting For” and the shiny swirl of “Millionaire” are also standouts. And while Jones is responsible for the lyrics, the rest of the band contributes to the arrangements.

“Everyone is really good at their instruments. We hash out the arrangements in practice, and the progressions come pretty easily,” he says.

Physical copies of the CD can be bought at the show, or pick up a digital copy for $5 at bombayharambee.bandcamp.com/album/you-know-better.

The group is also planning shows in Hot Springs, Fayetteville and a trip across the river to play in Memphis at the Buccaneer Lounge, a first for Jones.

“I’m really excited. It’ll be the first time I’ve ever played in Memphis.”

Bombay Harambee

Opening acts: Whale Fire, Colin vs. Adam 9:30 tonight Admission: $5 White Water Tavern, 2500 W. Seventh St., Little Rock whitewatertavern.com (501) 375-8400

Weekend, Pages 32 on 01/09/2014

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