The band Swampcandy truly lives up to its name, with its music being like candy to your ears. It’s hard to believe that this band consists of just two musicians, Ruben Dobbs on guitar and Joey Mitchell on bass, as they manage to fill up a huge amount of musical space between the two of them. From self-taught Dobbs to university-trained Mitchell, one is the yin to the other’s yang, balancing each other out in the most seamless way imaginable. Their latest album Swampcandy Land has a somewhat distant quality to it, giving the listener a sense that it could have been recorded several decades ago in an old saloon or at a barn dance. You really feel like you’re sitting right there next to the musicians as they are playing each one of their unique jaw-dropping songs.
Combining a fun element with the otherwise somber genre of Mississippi Delta Blues, this band’s latest album Swampcandy Land has a way of working its way into your brain from the first listen. It’s going to be a challenge to gets these songs out of your head, especially “If I Die With My Eyes Open,” which has both infectious lyrics and a riff that is just repetitive enough to get stuck in your head without it being annoying. Adding to the driving beat present throughout the album is Mitchell’s impressive ability to simultaneously play the bass and the kick drum, on which he effectively mimics the sound of a full drum kit. “Drink Whiskey With Me” adds a jazzier, almost klezmer-like, element to the album, featuring a full-on brass section. Getting a little more psychedelic on “Positive Drinking,” somewhat bluegrassy on “Love in My Veins,” and classical and folky at the same time on “Good Day,” Swampcandy sure provided something to please everyone. Dobbs’s voice, though, is perhaps the most striking aspect of the band, covering a wide range of notes with an amazing amount of energy and soul evident in each and every one.
Touring pretty relentlessly last year, playing more than 250 shows throughout the U.S. and the U.K., Swampcandy has deservedly been gaining numerous honors in recent years, having won the 2014 Floydfest “On the Rise” competition and Radio Flag’s Radio Star Award for “Best Artist Fall 2014,” to name just a few. Judging by their latest album, it is easy to see why these awards have been bestowed upon them. Hosting a CD release party on May 22 in Annapolis, MD (with Upstate NY’s very own Blind Owl Band opening up for them), the band will be touring aggressively throughout the rest of the summer, including a stop at The Waterhole in Saranac Lake on August 13, which will definitely be a show not to miss if you happen to be in the area.
If you’re looking for an album with heartfelt lyrics, a pure classic bluesy oldtimey sound, and songs that you won’t mind humming along to all day, then Swampcandy Land is one that you’ll undoubtedly want to add to your collection. Be sure to pick up a copy when it comes out on June 1, and you will get the added bonus of a fun board game to go along with the album. These guys are creative geniuses.
Key Tracks: “If I Die With My Eyes Open,” “Drink Whiskey With Me,” “Swampcandy Land”