Bombadil - A buzz A buzz

Occasionally, I just fall into the trap of being bored while searching the CD bins at a CD Store. Preferably, this would be at a very eclectic shop with new and used CDs, but, in "Bigger is Better" USA, it's usually Best Buy. It's not exactly the place where one expects to make a great "find," but they sometimes surprise.

It's been said that "you can't judge a book by it's cover," but I don't know that I agree. First impressions do matter, after all. Same for CDs. I bought Steve Winwood's "Arc of a Diver" and Steely Dan's "Gaucho" on gut reactions to the album artwork. Those worked out well. I'm sure there have been others in the 25+ years since, but, uh, I can't remember any...

In any case, this time around, I came across an artsy CD cover with an unusual band name. The name of the group, as is obvious from the title of this post, is Bombadil, and the package indicated it was alt/indie music, from a label in North Carolina. The State makes it a point of curiosity, as I tend to be interested in southern bands. The alt/indie indication was more important, because, regardless of art or title, I'm certainly not buying death metal, rap, or Brittney pop.

Oh, it was also cheap.

Those that read JRR Tolkein's "Lord of the Rings" may recall Tom Bombadil, a character who didn't make it to the version. He was a very odd character, somewhat out of place even in the menagerie of the LOTR cast.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a CD review! With a core of electric and acoustic guitars, bass, piano and drums, the band adds flourishes that suggest access to either a music store or a high school marching band locker area. Where else would a (presumably bare budget) band find a harmonica, xylophone, organ, synth, saxophone, trumpet, viola, charango, glockenspiel, accordion, recorder and zampona?

Okay, this isn't music for everyone, particularly those that stick to a Top 40 diet or for whom Neil Young is the outer limits or musical radicalism. Think... eclectic. Charmingly odd. Add a twist of the bizarre and a slice of the unexpected.

The first song, "Trip Out West," begins things innocently enough. It's a piano based, quiet but tuneful song. The singer has a nice enough voice.

Song two: "Julian of Norwich" launches into a military march of sorts, which is certainly a contrast to who she was.

And so it goes. To be fair, I don't like every song on here. "Johnny" has a beautiful tune, but cutting lyrics of the literal kind. But there is plenty to like, and it's certainly a departure from my musical mainstream (sadly, perhaps best described as "aging songwriters").

The videos that follow are a couple of the better songs - at least of the ones available on YouTube.

"Three Saddest Words"

"Smile When You Kiss"

Sometimes, lyrics also give a sense of things:

From "Cavaliers Har Hum":

"We are calling cavaliers to arms
We shall fight like a lion with a sword in its side
We shall rush to defend at the sound of the alarms
We shall vanquish our foes with justice of the brave
Cavaliers, sing out in glory, har hum
Cavaliers, it's the same old story, har hum"

Did I mention eclectic? Anyway, as long as the music is listenable, I'm always interested in artists who make music they want to make it, as opposed to meeting others' expectations. That's certainly the case here, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they progress.

Suggested Songs: "Three Saddest Words," "Smile When You Kiss," "Cavaliers Har Hum"

Rating: 3 Stars


  1. Are the lyrics to "Cavaliers Har Hum" completed right there?

  2. No, there's more, but the band seems to have replaced them on their site with lyrics from a new album next month, and I can't find them elsewhere. You can search and listen to it on youtube and they have a streaming audio of the track on their myspace site.