How’s that saying go — the personal is political? Or the political is personal? Thirty-three-year old singer-songwriter Kevin Devine can’t keep it straight either on his two-LP set Bulldozer and Bubblegum and it’s one of his most endearing qualities. The mere release of this bounty doubles as a statement of intent — after a decade of gutting it out in the “indie” world, Devine really went independent, raising over $100,000 on Kickstarter and matching his fans’ generosity with a wealth of new songs. But the albums themselves use their titles as feints, as Bubblegum is actually the noisy, pop-rock record he recorded with Brand New’s Jessie Lacey, whereas the more brazenly-titled Bulldozer was produced by Rob Schnapf, a guy best known for handling Beck and Elliott Smith albums. While the Bubblegum tracks surround Devine’s clear, bookish voice with more distortion, both records are similarly constructed at their core, sweet and forceful with no topical boundaries. Devine’s every bit as likely to emote about Chelsea Manning, gentrification and the effects of Hurricane Sandy as he is to take umbrage at his own perceived personal failings. Either way, these direct and humanist records toe the line between folk, emo and whatever other genres you want to name where establishing community is the essential goal.
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