Knife In the Water are a five piece band from Austin, TX that make a sort of slow, mellowish pop music. There is a deep sixties influence in their sound, ably provided by the carefully crafted male/female vocal harmonies and the prominent use of an organ as an accent instrument. Their music is mellow and catchy, with hummable melodies and delicate instrumentation.
The voice mostly drives the songs along, and is the most prominent element in their music. Lead vocalist Aaron Blount sings mostly in the mid-range; well, he seems to talk more than sing. Keyboardist Laura Krause backs him up quite often, usually singing more than speaking her parts, and she has a lovely mid-range voice as well. The two really harmonize well together, which i guess is a sign of familiarity.
Cut the Cord is Knife In the Water's third full-length release. It was originally released in May of 2003 on a Spanish label and available for import only into the US. Eventually it was released over here, and much much later (as in, only a few months before the writing of this) i managed to track down a copy. So it's not exactly easy to find. It is, however, well worth the quest.
Like all of Knife in the Water's releases to date, Cut the Cord is a collection of delicate pop gems. The album starts off admirably with the lovely ballad Village Fireworks. This tune starts off slow and meandering, then gets kind of dubby and loud during the bridge. Bassist Mark Nathan and drummer Cisco Ryder really shine here.
That song fades quietly into an appalling lovely pop tune called Kill a Tiger. An organ drone drives this one along, and combined with a prominent bass riff, strong vocal harmonies, and loud guitar, this song really sounds like some lost classic from the 60's. I can just see a video with everyone in those stupid polyester neon clothes they wore back then, all wearing funky sunglasses, and, say, the drummer in a tiger costume. Okay, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but this song is simply fun. It's catchy and happy and really well done. Oasis would kill to be able to pull this off....
As good as Kill a Tiger is, the next song amazes me and is my favorite
on the album. It's called The Very Air and in the chorus
Blount and Krause harmonize the words "The breath of the very
air." The funny thing about this is that when I saw
Knife in the Water play The EARL back when this album first
came out (they played to 5 fans on a Tuesday night...) I thought
they were singing "The death of MaryAnne" and I went around
the office humming/singing that song to my supervisor, who was
named MaryAnne. I still hear those words if i'm not paying attention...
Okay, my mistake aside, this song is simply stunning. It's a beautiful slow tune with nice harmonies, sparse guitarwork, great light drumming, a nice slide guitar part (and it's not often I say that!), a loping bass riff, and a scratched rhythm (one of those things that you rub a stick over a ridged piece of wood -- what is that called?) Then the two voices come in, and, on the choruses, the whole band swells up behind the voices to make it almost too pretty. This one really blows me away....
After The Very Air, there are 9 more tracks, all similar in nature, but none that reach the heights of this one song, at least in my opinion. Now, none of those tunes are bad, and all of them are at least very competent 60s influenced pop, but none bowl me over like the first three tracks do. At first, i thought this might be because the sheer power of those first three tracks leaves me somewhat drained, so that i appreciate the later songs less. However, i have experimented with this by starting my listening on track 4 and going from there. Well, in that case i tend to appreciate the album less, which leads me to conclude that Knife in the Water really front-loaded this album with their best tracks. Not a bad strategy i suppose.
Still, there are moments to enjoy later in the album. Massacre
features a great marching drum riff, and on Warped Pearls
Krause's organ reminds me of the work of Thighpaulsandra in
Spiritualized. Lighthouse to the Blind is a nice little
Doors-y number that, on most albums, would shine like a beacon
in the night. It's glory is diminished only slightly by The
Very Air, with which it cannot compete. My Skin Would
Cover The Waterfront gets really beautiful and loud in the
middle, kind of like The Very Air in a way.
Overall, this is a very good album, and i am rather impressed with Knife in the Water. If you like solid pop, then you really need to check this album out.