Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10
Kaleida - "Knowing Who Your Friends Are" Kaleida is the "reformation" of the band Pastel Collision. They are led by a girl named Gaynor Haggerty who sounds somewhat like Sarah Blackwood of Dubstar, and in fact the sound of this band is very similar to that of Dubstar as well. Sexy, smooth and very lush, this is more like "music" than "pop" as it were, although tracks likeStop, Look and Listen certainly do manage to rock a bit. Not to imply that this is a low key affair, as it certainly isn't. It just has that slightly "adult" tinge to it that bands like Dubstar or Everything But The Girl do. But there is a very bouncy air to the proceedings, and I suppose if you like the grunge that passes for current alternative "brit" music then this will sound "evil in it's banality" like the NME called the Baxendale LP. Of course the NME doesn't have a fucking clue these days either, and sadly it would probably be for the best if they left us just like the Maker did. In any event, if you dig "music", that stuff you can sing along to in the car that makes you feel good about being alive, then this is certainly an Lp you'll want. 10 stars and you can dance to it......
Label ~ Siesta, 10 Tracks, 1998
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Kanda - "It's a Good Name for You" Here we have the debut LP of another techno-electronic affair produced by 2 members of Mahogany and the opener here mostly reminds me of Figurine in it's technotronic simplicity and special effects sounds. The next track however, Charlie Green really grabbed me as it is a complete early New Order rip off in sound with a soaring opening keyboard line, but when the Hook like bass line kicked in that was really it. It's so damn good I don't even mind the parody, which mostly dissipates once the vocals start anyway. (I'd take a hundred albums that parodied Power, Corruption and Lies and did it well) On a whole this falls in the current genre of synth indie pop, having an almost twee feel about it but always remaining poppy. And of course it retains the added benefit of it's genre in that it is recorded well, as it's easy to plug a sound generating machine into a sound recording machine. The twee influence may bother the serious types, as songs like Mug Man certainly have a childlike quality about them, but the damn whistling hook line in it is the kind of thing you find yourself singing all day. In that respect it succeeds, because too often people make "fun" albums only to forget they needed to add MUSIC to them. While this thing is certainly having fun at times, it never forgets that the chops come first and it is indeed loaded with enough hooks, line and cool melodies to keep your interest. I think the back cover sums it up best. It says, "2002 Kanda - all rights reserved, all wrongs reversed" Yeah, I like this.
Postscript: I had given this a pretty high rating originally, but I had to intercede and raise it to top marks. This has remained one of my most listened to discs since I got it, and I enjoy it more every time I hear it and my kid is also bonkers over it. It does have a childlike quality, but the lyrics are brilliant and intelligent, plus the melodies are well thought out and hooky as all hell and every song is a winner. It's pure damn gold people.
Label ~ 555 Recordings, 11 Tracks, 2002
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.3
Kanda - "All The Good Meetings Are Taken" Again we are faced with another sophomore effort trying to equal a debut which I consider legendary among music releases of the past 15 years. Truly there is no less enviable task in music, and since so many (in fact most) fail at this step it is almost to be expected. I don't know how much of that lies with the listener however, because we are the ones with the chip on our shoulders and the expectations to be met. Since this bands debut blew my doors and walls down, well really, what's left? Could they wow me more, and do they even have any wow left in them? One ponders this query with a raised eye in this case because looking at the cover, with them standing on the porch of their new home a happily married couple (with a dog), the first thought is inevitably: "They're done." Oh, we are happy for them and all that, but domesticity kills bands.... OK, enough blathering and guessing, lets get on with business and add this thing up, and we'll start with the worst bits. What doesn't this have you ask? Well, their penchant for stealing New Orders best melodies and bass riffs and making them their own is not really happening on this outing. A genuine pity. Secondly, they wrote some quirky and near brilliant lyrics on their debut. The writing here is OK, but not up to that level. (with one or two not working so well) Finally, while the singing is mostly good thru out on a few cuts Arlands voice sounds like he's either trying too hard or was just miked indifferently (that means not well). OK, the good bits. This band has a unique "cutsey" quality which makes them endearing without it getting childish or weird, and that is as present as ever. They also have a knack for writing catchy melodies, and there are certainly a number of nice selections on here. What it adds up to is most of what's on here is very good, but for some reason or another it ultimately fails at being great. It seems to lack a cohesive driving force, anger, energy or theme. As I said, domesticity (and happiness) kills bands. As a rule rock stars are not happy couples who live in lovely homes in Portland with a dog. They're broke, pissed off, and single. (or living in a cadillac) While no sophomore slump by any means, there is just a little dip in the road. A must for fans, but newbies would be best served starting with their debut. While a competent follow up for sure, I must admit I am already looking ahead to album number three and in the interim I hope they get a new next door neighbor who is a real fucking asshole. (sorry guys, it's for your own good)
Label ~ Bop Tart, 11 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 6.3
Kawaii - "If It Shines, We Have It" I have put this off for some time now. When it showed up unexpectedly in my mailbox some time ago I had at the time not yet heard of them. I happened to meet T at the mailbox and he gave me the old "Oh, YOU'LL love that, it's supposed to be just like OMD". Only he could make liking OMD sound like a bad thing, and as if he didn't like them either. Well, I went in and put it on and it sounded like a lot of things, just none of them OMD. This was back when my room project was going full bore, I was in a rotten mood and I didn't have a good listening environment. I attributed it to that and set it aside for a better tomorrow. Well, it's been pulled out many times since then, and has gotten the ride when the room was setup to die for, and still, it's done nothing for me. About half of it I find moves me not at all in any way, and the other half is actually a bit annoying. On top of that one of the songs is entitled They Would Probably Talk, Sleep or Fuck" which instantly puts this out of my kids grasp and hearing as well. Fuck as an adjective is bad enough, but as a verb I have to draw the line, especially where kids are concerned. Oh well, it was bound to happen I suppose. I think this is the first shelflife release in a long, long time I didn't like at all. Happens to the best of them. Maybe it's me, so give it a listen on your own if interested, but I found nothing here to stimulate, intrigue or capture my interest at all.
Label ~ Shelflife, 13 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9.7
Kicker - "Our Wild Mercury Years" Again we have another disc that last years events caused me to sit on far too long. In listening to the opening number by this London UK band I was instantly struck by how much lead singer Phil Sutton sounds like Paul Sullivan from the Chairs. While a good comparison it gets alleviated by the fact that this is a boy/girl singing affair and part of those duties here are carried out by Jill Drew who doesn't sound much like anyone but herself, although that's nice too. Musically there are a number of hints and familiarities of the past on here, perhaps most notably early Lloyd Cole, but when the viola kicks in on the track Doris Dear the June Brides come instantly to my mind. The track listings are broken apart as if to imply an album A and B side, and I'm not sure if the musical change I think I hear is real or imagined. The "second side" starts out with New Day, Fresh Start which is a 70's styled pop ditty with a decided Motown feel to it and it's quite good. This side also features an intriguing cover of the 1965 Inciters hit Since You Left so I suppose it's fair to say this B side is a bit more retro, but equally as good. If you are a fan of all that was pop and inide from the 80's (and beyond) this is an album you will certainly fall in love with. It does everything right and almost nothing wrong and it manages to be original while clearly honouring past gods. It is deserving of a wide audience and almost sure to please.
Label ~ Track & Field, 12 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8
Kids Of Widney High - "Act Your Age" This is the third album from this"band", which is actually an ever changing group of special ed students (that's "speds" and/or "skillers" for the cruel bullies out there) who actually attend a high school named Widney and who actually make records with the help of some teachers. I couldn't even pin my pre audition expectations, and when Life Without The Cow came at me like Los Lobos tripped on tripthophene after popping a few uppers, I still couldn't tell what emotion I was feeling. Perhaps that doesn't make sense, but the song is an odd lament to life without cows. That doesn't make it bad however. I had a hard time quantifying this, and the closest approximation I can make is to when I see my kid sing at her schools Christmas special every year. I enjoy it more than any other thing during the year. Is that because it's my kid? No it isn't actually, because I like all the other grades as much. Innocent children are able to lend magic to everything they touch, which is why I get so upset at society trying to whore them up by age 8. But it still begs the question: Do I want to listen to it all year long? I can't as yet answer that. The musicianship on here is good, but I doubt how much the kids are actually doing. (any bit would be quite amazing) They do do all the singing, with a few of them taking turns, and not a damn one is close to being in tune to anything, and some are lets say "out there". The song Miss Understood is a glaring example of this, where a lot of what they sing makes no sense, and the lead vocalist is awful. But not awful like a lot of bands where the lead singer thinks they can sing. This is a happy kid singing, one who just can't sing in tune, and that innocence miraculously saves it somehow. It's followed by probably the best cut on this, the salsa shuffling Two Faces On Fidel, an ode to Cubas Machismo Grande which is the closest thing to an in tune "coherent" song on here. So I'm not really sure how to rate this, or even whether to recommend it. In many respects it is brilliant, in many others it's terrible. However even at what you may call it's worst moments, there is no denying a sort of underlying charm. People in the "biz" seemed worked up over it, so is this another stroke of genius from America's most celebrated window lickers, or is it crap? It must benefit the kids in the long run, and heaven knows their lot is tough enough, and in any case you'd probably spend the money on something that would really stink. Give the kids a shot and buy it. It's worth it for it's comedic value certainly.
Label ~ Moon Man, 10 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 6.5
Kincaid - "plays Super Hawaii" I remember once listening to Howard Stern go off about Raymond Burr, and Robyn gave him the usual speech that if he couldn't say something nice about someone he shouldn't say anything at all. So Howard said "He has a deep voice". She said "Is that a compliment?" And what has that got to do with this record? Well, it has great cover art (and a good title). I was going to leave it at that but that wouldn't be fair. This group has that VERY american sound. That means the lead singer Greg Harmelink (?) has an awful voice. Just awful. The title track isn't really too bad, and it's certainly the best cut on here. Many songs are good musically, like California 2012 which opens with a groovy line I like alot, but then he sings. If someone who could actually sing well sang this it would be a great song, but as it is it's hard for me to listen to. Another of those could-have-beens for me at least. If "american" voices don't bother you, then I'd easily rate this close to a 9. Unfortunately I can't listen to this guy warble about, it's like nails on a chalkboard to me.
Label ~ Kindercore, 14 Tracks, 1999
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 9
Kinematic - "Time & Place" This is an Australian band but you wouldn't think it upon hearing the opening track because the usual twinge one expects in the vocals is notoriously absent. In fact their lead singer comes across as far more American sounding, while musically it is sort of a US/UK alternative rock hybrid. However that's only mostly true when the songs tend to be harder and more rock oriented. When it gets softer and more introspective Aussie elements stand out a bit more, and by that I mean something like Sodastream comes quicker to mind in the guitar lines and drumming. I'm not actually sure how I feel about this album, it's all quite good, but when they are more over the top it's not really my cup of tea as it comes across like many of the big name UK "alternative" bands who we won't name and which do not do much for me. But on slower tracks like The Things I Do or the very lovely December Seventeen I stand nearly smitten. So when listening to this it really comes and goes for me. There's no question it's a matter of preference and I could quite see many people getting quite worked up over it. It's not classic rock but it is a classic indie rock album. The bits I liked I liked a lot, (about half) while the rest is just OK for my tastes. It wasn't bad by any means, but for whatever reason some of the songs didn't speak to me. My advice is to check it out for yourself at their website here for more info and sound clips.
Label ~ Somersault, 14 Tracks, 2005
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 8.4
Kingdom Flying Club - "Non-Fiction" Their press sheet touts them as the "Best band from Columbia" but I wasn't sure which Columbia. There's a Columbia in almost every other state I think. Turns out it's Missouri, which is probably the last place I would have guessed. Since I am also not aware of the rest of the Columbia scene I can't vouch for the title, but perhaps they should set their sights higher. This for me is somewhat run of the mill, but at times perhaps a little better. I do like Artists Are Boring with it's harpsichordial overtones, it marries some aspects of the old school with an intriguing melody and it's quite good. There are some others that kind of get away from them and the melody gets lost in a semi wall of noise. In many respects this is a lot like the kind of stuff that comes out of the mid west, like some of the bands you find on the Words On Music label, at times earnest and heartfelt but with a decided americana to their sound. That gets old on me fast, not that it's bad, it's just not my cup of tea normally. To their credit there is a bit of experimentation on some of the tracks such as The Closer I Get which is actually more minimal and flat in it's sound, and comes closer to 70's power pop than the midwest indie scene. It would be nice to see this band break out of the mold of their contemporaries, as they certainly have shown they can do it. Time will tell, and until then this is better than average fare for the genre it belongs to.
sound clip -
Artists Are Boring
Label ~ Emergency Umbrella, 13 Tracks, 2003
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Kings Of Convenience - "S/T - Quiet Is The New Loud" This is an update long overdue. When I created this site four years ago I did not at the time own either of these two discs, but had borrowed them from T-baby to review. Before I even got to do that however, I wound up sending them to Johan of Club 8 in a trade as he happened by chance to ask for them as he didn't own them. T said he didn't want them so I could send them, but before I did I made copies, well a copy, since they shared a number of songs I just recorded the entire self titled original (lets call it the "white" album) and then addeded the extra tracks from the other to make one disc. At the time, I was not aware of the difference/importance between them as I had not even listened to either of them yet. What everyone knows now however is the original white album on Kindercore had limited availability and was shortly deleted when the Kings signed to the major Astralwerks. What's more, the new label insisted that the songs that were to be included from the original release be remixed with more orchestration. As I copied the white album and not "Quiet..." I did not know this difference existed at the time, or for a while. Quiet... is easy to come by new or used, but the white album is somewhat rare and does often sell for high sums. Should it? I think so. I have become so struck over time by that album I still give T all kinds of crap for letting his copy go, and I have since purchased a copy for me, and one for him to make up for his short sightedness. (I am a prince) Not only have the remixes robbed the originals of their souls, the over all feel and pace of the original is simply heart rending where "Quiet..." is simply good. What's more, of the differing tracks the ones on the white album are far superior, such as the sublime beauty of An English House. I had meant to redress the reviews of these albums years ago but alas, time, time.... but it is now done. My rating of the original is a solid 10+ and in fact it is one of my all time favourite albums and it's to die for thru magnepans. The recording is immediate, touching and it is jam packed with genuine emotion. Quiet.. is only bad in comparison to the original. Had you not heard the original you would probably feel strongly about Quiet..., and as is your first impression might be you like those versions more upon hearing the originals. However the critical eye is the final arbiter, and the originals ARE far superior. Not compared to the original I'd rate Quiet a 9.6, by comparison it's an 8.5. If you like them you'll want both for the non inclusive material, but if you have neither I strongly urge you to seek a used copy of the original first. It may cost as much as $30 but it is worth it and it's the best way to fall in love with this band. I have no hesitation calling it a milestone and one of the best records ever made. If you can't find a copy wait, and get their new album instead.
Original Label ~ Kindercore, 10 Tracks, 2000 Redux ~ Astralwerks, 12 Tracks, 2001
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
Kings Of Convenience - "Riot On An Empty Street" I got this on vinyl as soon as it came out but did not get to clean it right away and therefore could not listened to it. I had not received my CD copy yet either, so my only inkling came from the video of I'd Rather Dance With You which I instantly fell in love with. I was somewhat taken by the fact that the song sounded so unlike them and was remarkably like the UK band the Beloved, dancy synth lines and all, with Erlend Oyes voice sounding remarkably like Jon Marsh from said band as well. All of that is of course for mention to inform and not complain as the song is simply a joy. (so is the video) Getting to hear the album proper, it is safe to say that track is the exception as the bulk of the material is quintessentially them. The days of making more with less as exhibited on their Kindercore debut are clearly gone, but the pace, emotion and delivery is all still there. So the real question is, "Quiet may be the new loud, but will we care anymore or simply go to sleep?" I think it is safe to say true talent finds a way, and here again it is not denied. There are instantly touching classics like Misread, Stay Out Of Trouble and even another redo of an old friend from the first album, Surprise Ice. I originally did not rate this a 10+ because I felt nothing could compare to their original. I stand corrected. Quiet got a little louder, but it is still as engaging as ever and is a must buy for 2004.
Label ~ Astralwerks, 12 Tracks, 2004
Hip-ometer Rating ~ 10+
James Kirk - "You Can Make It If You Boogie" No, this is not the debut of the captain of the Enterprise, but it is the debut of one of the founders of the great UK band Orange Juice who were one of the most influential of the early bands who would spawn all that you loved about the 80's indie scene. How people like him sit on the can for 20 years and then get up and produce something like this I'll never understand but all the same I am extremely grateful for it. It often seems true the nut doesn't fall far from the tree, and much of the melody and, lets say introspection to be found here very much remind me of OJ and that can only be and is a good thing. (err.. great thing) The songs are like a travelogue thru a jazzily acoustic wonderland where less IS more, and you do wear your angst on your sleeve and it's just beautiful there, as is everything. This is that rare treat, the trip down that takes you up. It was a joy to listen to and when track three Rehab started I was gone. My will had surrendered. My God if it's not one of the swankiest and sexiest intelligent songs ever written. Also included is a remix of his wonderful OJ song Felicity which is a nice treat. I can only pity the world that it will be denied the chance to revel in this because music industry pinheads will do everything they can to kill it. This is just a sublime gem of a record and my only hope is that it does get heard, and that Jim doesn't make us wait 20 more years for the next one. I am enthralled with every aspect of this record. It is such an acomplishment I am speechless, and heartstruck. I love the cover too.
Label ~ Marina, 13 Tracks, 2003