American Indie/rock band Bad Books broke onto the music scene with a dynamic sound, dark yet honest lyrics, and tremendous brilliance based in a supergroup sensation matched by a union based in the solidarity of friendship. Consisting of members Kevin Devine and Andy Hull on lead vocals, piano, and guitar, Robert McDowell on lead guitar and backup vocals, Chris Freeman on keyboards and backup vocals, Jonathan Corley on bass, and Ben Homola on drums and percussion, the group formed when members of the group Manchester Orchestra combined powers with solo folk/indie artist Devine after he toured with the Orchestra during 2008. As one of the most coincidentally accidental forces of collaboration as both bands traveled the open road, this group supercedes the expectations of all members simply by the force of their combined raw talent.
The following 10 Best Bad Books Songs are all the proof listeners need to appreciate the quality of some of the world's finest musicians perfecting their craft.
1. Friendly Advice
2. The Easy Mark And The Old Maid
3. Forest Whitaker
5. You’re A Mirror I Cannot Avoid
6. Please Move
7. It Never Stops
8. How This All Ends
10. Ambivalent Peaks
Despite the sheer genius involved in Bad Books' sound, the group's lack of destination and no clear map to guide its members allowed the universe to forge a path to mutual collaboration merely by coincidence. All members of Bad Books united merely by filling time and empty silence while touring several years ago. During 2007, Devine joined the Manchester Orchestra tour after signing with their Favorite Gentlemen label. From March through April 2007 and from November through December 2008, members from both groups established a connection while supporting the band Brand New and promoting their own projects. The release of Devine’s EP “I Could Be With Anyone” as well as proximity as they toured provided the creative space for Devine and Hull to write songs during the July 2009 tour throughout the UK while promoting Manchester Orchestra’s “Mean Everything To Nothing” cd release. Material from that collaboration provided songs for the split EP “I Could Be The Only One” released on January 26, 2010 and included Devine covering the Orchestra’s song “The Only One” as well as the Orchestra covering Devine’s “I Could Be With Anyone.” That month was a turning point for Bad Books when they announced during an interview with AbsolutePunk that they were releasing their first full length, self titled debut album on October 19, 2010.
In addition to perfecting tracks for their debut album, Bad Books also prepared for a tour of the east coast of the U.S. with venues at New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Cambridge to promote Andy Hull’s solo project Right Away, Great Captain, McDowell’s side project Gobotron, and Dead Confederate ‘Hardy Morris’ Hardello. They also continued to promote the debut album and offered a working tracklist and album artwork designed by Chris Freeman and Brian Manley via their official website on August 25, 2010. Staying true to their craft, the group also offered a free download of “You Wouldn’t Have To Ask” and a free listen to “Please Move” via their Facebook profile. On October 18, 2010, Bad Books uploaded their entire debut album to Myspace and Facebook for free streaming. Two days later they offered a live acoustic performance of their material via their official website. They also announced a 5 venue tour during December of that year featuring material based in Bad Books songs, Manchester Orchestra Songs, and solo performances in support of their debut album.
The November 8, 2010 release of the music video “You Wouldn’t Have To Ask” via Spin.com’s official website helped Bad Books gain more attention. The black and white video directed by Jason Miller was based upon the 1964 performance of “Gone, Gone, Gone” by the Everly Brothers and featured the collision of the group’s powerful essence cast in straight shooting simplicity. The video was made available via iTunes within weeks and helped secure Bad Books’ place in the spotlight. In addition to the video and creation of new materials, the band added venues along the West Coast to its tour sleighed for January 2011.
While Bad Books kicked off its late 2010-early 2011 tour promoting its debut album, they also continued to record new material. The release of “The Plan,” a cover of a Built To Spill song, on January 11, 2011 as a free MP3 download of a live recording from one of the groups first shows quickly gained momentum. Months later an accompanying live video was filmed by ApK Media and released with the download. During April 2011, Manchester Orchestra released “The Plan” in a live recording format featuring Kevin Devine as part of its b-side collection to the Record Store Day with the single of their song “Simple Math.” The group continued to play live shows and maintained their work within the studio to record material for their second album.
On October 9, 2012, the lengthy process of producing their second album was brought to fruition when Triple Crown Records released II. The album featured the song “Forest Whitaker” which was promoted via Rolling Stone’s official website and secured the group’s course through the great unintended and unknown.
As a “therapeutic outlet” per Hull’s confession and means of allowing members “to go certain places we might not go on our own” per Devine, Bad Books is anything but bad. Its a masterpiece of sheer genius ambiguity. A rare gem buried deep in the hearts of fans and the men who cradle the true craft of musicianship with their endless intensity of absolute talent, Bad Books is a group destined for greatness in the sea of delicious ambiguity.