If you’d expect Armand Margjeka‘s music to be as complex as his name, you’d be both right and wrong. While no math rock dominates his songs, there is a rich, smoky depth to the music that resembles the subterranean earth––it may be dirty, but a lot goes on. Hummingbird masterfully demonstrates Margjeka’s artful ear with his sensible tongue, arcing over ten tracks of grunge-meets-indie in a well-timed play of sound.
The LP seems to have two sides (no analog pun intended), one reminiscent of modern-day garage rock and one of seventies-era folk. Margjeka is a self-professed lover of roots rock, so this makes perfect sense, and certainly a good number of tracks reflect this, such as “Relief,” which simultaneously pulls from such varied musicians as John Fogerty, Casey Crescenzo, and Andrew Bird. Its acoustic-driven, bombastic feel is both calming and upsetting, joining Margjeka’s two halves into one. “Ain’t Me” is a down and dirty number that sounds like the best parts of Dan Auerbach’s solo material meshed with a “best of classic rock” CD––don’t worry, that’s meant as a compliment. Margjeka has a talent for modernizing roots sounds and harkening back to the folky origins of today’s music, and he demonstrates this well across the album.
That being said, while it feels like Margjeka has found his footing, it also feels like he’s letting himself go a bit. The piano-pummeled “Baby Put That Dress On (We’re Goin’ out Tonite)” not only has at least two anachronisms in the title but a pseudo-Johnny Cash vibe that doesn’t translate too well. The guitar hook is one of the catchiest riffs of the year, but the actual composition leaves a little to be desired. Then again, in songs like “Move Slow,” Margjeka creates memorable and substantive moments that deserve a second (or third) play. The almost cinematic feel of Hummingbird doesn’t persist throughout, but it’s worth listening to a song or two of gas. Margjeka is definitely on the “must watch” list for up-and-coming indie folk-rock artists.