I really hate the term supergroup. When I think
"supergroup," I invariably think of the turd-heap called Damn
Yankees, but maybe thatís just me. At any rate, in reading other
press bits about Atlanta group Black Kites, I have probably
seen that word used three or four times. Yes, this relatively
new group does sport the musical talents of members (or former
members) of other prominent Atlanta bands Jet
By Day, 3D5SPD,
and American Dream,
but I would hate for the average listener to expect to hear
a combination of these bandsí sounds. In fact, Black Kites debut
record, Loki, is very little like anything the
membersí other bands have ever released.
According to the liner notes, this LP was recorded by vocalist
Joie Hokeís husband Chris on an 8-track reel. While the record
certainly has hints of a lo-fi conception, the superb instrument
layering leaves virtually no trace of the potential 8-track
limitations. Hoke's vocals are clear, Amy Burmeisterís and Michelle
Coxís guitars are crisp, and Susannah Barnesís nice bass melodies
arenít hidden in the mix. My only complaint would be the drum
mix. It seems just a bit flat, though certainly adequate given
the recording limitations. Brody Boyer seems to be a good drummer,
and I would love to be able to hear the more subtle nuances
of his work.
I donít ordinarily like to do this, but I will go track-by-track
on this one, since Loki is relatively short. The
8 song album opens with the title track. Definitely one of the
more indie-pop tinged tracks on the record, Loki opens
with a fuzzy/clangy guitar tone and somewhat abstract percussion.
What stands out in this song (and many others on this disc)
is the interesting vocal harmonies. With one vocal part overlapping
the next throughout the song, a great abstraction is created.
It is almost chaotic, but never confusing.
The following track, Botox Blues, begins in much the
same fashion as the opening track, but also contains an infectious
vocal melody in the opening verse. I found myself humming along
with this track almost immediately, and the refrain is just
as catchy. I still see it as one of the standout tracks on this
record. Tracks three and four are perhaps the songs on this
disc that most resembles the work of Black Kitesí influences
such as Lush, Blonde Redhead,
and The Breeders, but not in a way that seems contrived.
Track five, Dial: 1 For Everything, is my favorite on
this disc. Again, the intertwining vocal harmonies heard earlier
are prevalent here. Also again, this track contains ridiculously
infectious (yet not overly polished) vocal melodies. The synth
sounds and screeching guitars strategically placed throughout
the song are great, and really add to the mood overall. In contrast,
track six is the only weak spot on the entire record. Curse
of Greyface contains a couple of really strong melodies,
but these get overshadowed by somewhat boring instrumentation.
Not a bad song, but certainly not the strong point of the recordÖ
Tracks seven and eight are more chilled-out than the rest of
the record. Both are fantastic, and along with Dial: 1 For
Everything really hint at what this new band will hopefully
do in the future. Here the instrumentation is quite strong,
and the vocal melodies are perfect.
I truly believe that Black Kites will mature into a real force
in Atlanta. To put out such a strong debut record so early in
their existence is testament to their resolve and musical abilities.
I also think that their unique vocal harmony progressions will
become their trademark. If Loki is any indication,
Black Kites could do a whole lot to liven-up Atlantaís downtrodden
music scene, which is something that is desperately needed.
Their songs are strong and their sound is unique: how could