Bomethius, inadiquit (2020)
A full-length collaboration between Jonathan Hodges and his uncle, Dave Hodges
My uncle Dave and I have been close for most of my life. He used to dip my pacifier in Jack Daniels…
Bomethius is the baroque pop project led by Jonathan Hodges, a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter based in Chicago. A dynamic vocalist and capable composer who’s equally skilled on the piano, violin, and guitar, Hodges draws from decades of classical training to craft a mischievous brand of chamber rock that echoes the sounds of Andrew Bird, Randy Newman, and Elliott Smith. Featuring a longtime rotation of guest contributors — including Jeff Tullis on bass, Ricky Roshell on woodwinds and horns, and Chris Stubblefield on trumpet — Bomethius has since added Sam Ahmadi on guitar and Physick’s Michael Minkoff on percussion. Together with Hodges’ other collaborators, these talents have aptly filled out and refined the sound of Bomethius’ manic meditations and existential audits.
With their energy and zeal, Bomethius’ first two records, Intimatitudes (2017) and As Roses (2018), showcase the songwriter’s tortured wit and impressive command of his instruments to chronicle the internal turmoil of an earnest youth’s coming of age. Full of spry musings on selfhood, love, hope, and purpose, these early releases feature moving confessional ballads, contemptuous snarls at the world’s incoherence, musical parodies, and more to evoke the deepest doubts that attend the alienation and rage of adolescence.
Bomethius followed with the breakthrough release, Sweet Nothings, in 2019. Exploring a range of styles from blues and jazz to minimalism and chamber rock, Sweet Nothings is Hodges’ stirring anthem to his own manic strain of indifference — at turns exalted and heartbreaking — tempered by restless obsessions with home, memory, and time. Dubbed “a folk masterpiece hiding in plain sight” by Atwood Magazine, the album earned further acclaim from The Album Effect podcast, which praised its “incredibly beautiful music.”
For Bomethius’ fourth record, Hodges partnered with his uncle, Dave Hodges, on a full-length collaboration titled inadiquit (2020). A longtime writer and amateur composer, Dave lent his nephew not only his taste and expertise, but also the wisdom afforded by the eighteen additional years he’d spent wrestling with the same preoccupations that have fueled Bomethius’ music from the beginning. At once excruciatingly tender and raucously explosive, inadiquit engages head-on the enduring trauma of a troubled upbringing coupled with misguided devotion to toxic religion. Praised by We Are Mirrors for delivering on its “heady concepts, both lyrical and compositional, through a progressive baroque-pop vessel that’s as ambitious as it is humble,” the album represented another significant leap for Bomethius in terms of compositional prowess, emotional fiber, and production quality.
In another demonstration of Bomethius’ growth and stature as a rising bard, Seasons of Limbo (2021) earned further acclaim, especially on the strength of two singles. A sincere folk ballad recorded days after twisters tore through his former Texas hometown in November 2019, “Tornados in Dallas” recalls the early works of Paul Simon and Leonard Cohen to celebrate the mystery and power of disasters, which destroy lives even as they bind people together. Supported by a plaintive violin, “Goodbye, Covid-19” swoons with smooth, breezy vocals and clean electric guitar evocative of M. Ward to trace the coronavirus’ devastating impact on family, ritual, and the future. Gentle variations on the song’s refrain trace personal reactions to the pandemic from dismissal to nightmare to a hopeful acceptance grounded in a love no crisis could thwart — even if one did disrupt the wedding plans.
Following a move to Chicago, Hodges returned in 2022 with Awful, Pompous, & Artificial (APA), Bomethius’ sixth record in as many years. A dynamic exploration of estrangement and the intangible devastation wrought by language in free fall, APA stews and surges with a ferment of earnest, fiery voices that reflect the troubling spiritual mechanics of fruitless utterances — messages that cannot be received, even if they are delivered.
Backed by exquisite performances from Hodges’ largest-ever group of collaborators — Roshell, Stubblefield, and Tullis alongside Ahmadi, Minkoff, and others — APA flows with Bomethius’ fullest, richest, and most nuanced sound yet. The record’s 13 tracks roam a vast range of songcraft that cycles among stringed harmonies, sinister synths, distorted violins, frolicsome whistling, soaring and crooning vocals, dueling guitars that alternate between seething riffs and delicate fingerpicking, and more.
Hodges graduated from Southern Methodist University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance. He has frequently performed as an improv violinist for Angel White, Danielle Juhre, Girl Named Nino, and Sarita Songbird. His former violin teachers include Marla Feeney, Alexander Serafimov, Ivan Ženatý, Chee-Yun Kim, and Diane Kitzman.
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