Tuesday, November 1, 2011

King's Daughters And Sons: A Review And A Free MP3

This is the sort of album one makes time for. The sort of album you plan a nice long drive -- alone -- to enjoy. If Then Not When is the debut from King's Daughters and Sons and it's out in the US on November 22nd via Chemikal Underground.

Is this the first American act to be signed to this influential label? I'm not sure but if ever there was an American band that was worthy of being released on the imprint formed by members of the glorious Delgados, it's probably this collection of luminaries from the Louisville, Kentucky scene.

Who are the members of King's Daughters and Sons? The members are:

Kyle Crabtree - drums (The Shipping News)
Todd Cook - bass (The Shipping News)
Rachel Grimes - piano, voice (The Rachel's)
Joe Manning - guitar, voice
Michael Heineman - guitar, voice

The result is the timeless If Not Then When. This is folk. This is rock. This is classical. This is chamber-pop. This is...

It's the sort of thing that defies description. Music of fury and intimacy that seems to have been produced without deference to any fickle flavor of the music industry. Stunning.

I hesitate to use the phrase music for musicians as it usually describes some wonky jazz squawking. But here, the term would do the job of describing the feeling you get when listening to If Then Not When. It's a feeling that you are eavesdropping on something private, like you just stepped into the rehearsal room as these 5 players sat down and picked up their instruments to construct their tunes.

"Sleeping Colony" gathers force for 7 minutes, tension in search of an outlet that may never come.

"Arcs of the Absentees" coasts and surges and sways on the strength of Rachel Grimes' vocals. The song feels English in a Fairport Convention-sort-of-way. It is music outside of the mainstream, as well as music outside of strict categorization.

"Dead Letter Office" builds and eventually rocks with a sort of new Americana vibe, like all those bands on Sub Pop now but with a dark undercurrent.

"The Anniversary" reminds one of Will Oldham but there's a rollicking vibe here that makes it a more robust endeavor. Not quite jolly, but buoyant nonetheless.

"A Storm Kept Them Away" -- my fave on the record -- is a jazzy affair, like King Crimson doing the backing bits on Led Zeppelin III. It's a weird mix but the stormy charms of this instrumental cannot be denied.

"Volunteer" -- the free MP3 below -- is a near-spoken word cut, intimate and disturbing.

The gentle "Lorelei" and the clanging "An Open Sky" close the album.

If Then Not When by King's Daughters and Sons is a strange and wonderful record, timeless and wholly modern in its approach to an America and an American past that may never have existed except in the pages of some Southern Gothic tome by Faulkner. This is music that will still resonate 5, 10, or 15 years from now.

Rarely has a detachment from the whims and winds of current musical fashion been such a wonderful and welcomed thing.

Download "Volunteer" from King's Daughters and Sons here.

You can buy If Then Not When from King's Daughters and Sons on CD from Amazon, or as an MP3 download from Amazon, and be sure to check iTunes as well.

Additionally, follow the band on the Chemikal Underground page:

Or on their own website: