The Fort Wayne band Bonsai lock into a sound that’s both classic and modern. The four-piece make melody-driven rock and roll that write songs that feel like anthems; big riffs, big rhythms, and big vocals that make you want to roll down the windows and keep driving till the tank hits empty. Sisters McKenna and Emily Parks, along with Gabe Keister and Jonah Leatherman have tapped into Replacements and Pretenders vibes equally, while coming up with a sound that’s very much their own.
On their latest single “Barbra” the band goes for a more dreamier, expansive sound. Once again working with studio wizard Jason Davis at Off The Cuff Sound and clocking in at just over 7 minutes, Bonsai build a song that has a very early 90s shoegaze vibe. I’m reminded of The Stone Roses and Mazzy Star here. McKenna Parks’ vocals truly elevate this track to a whole new level, but as a whole the band completely lock in. There’s a maturity here. It’s a song about self-discovery and finding out who you are on your own terms.
The first song I’d ever heard from Bonsai’s was last year’s “Golden Hue”. It was a rich, melody-driven track that had a nice drive to it and put me in mind of 80s anthems from Springsteen, Petty, and Benatar. With “Barbra” Bonsai have upped their game and have elevated themselves as songwriters and musicians. The sort of ethereal music video only adds to the pondering and existentialism of the track. Shot at what looks like the Michigan Dunes, the video feels like a metaphor for escaping the expectations others lay on our shoulders. We need to make our own expectations for ourselves and live up to those. That’s what matters in the big scheme of things.
As a still pretty young-ish band, I think Bonsai are well on their way to figuring out who they are and what they’re capable of. Their journey is just starting, and there’s plenty of gas in the tank. These four seem to be in full-on cruise mode, and “Barbra” is blasting thru the speakers.