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Recording:
  Loki  
 
Artist:
  Black Kites  
 
Label:
  (self-released)  
 
Release Date:
  8.November.2003  
 
Reviewed by:
  MediaHostage  
         
 
Rating:
   
         
 
Review:
 

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 they lose?

 
         
 
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