31 August 2006

Kamikaze Hearts

The Kamikaze Hearts are playing tonight at my favorite folk venue, Club Passim. It's my favorite because it's a cheery, friendly place with inventive and shockingly good vegetarian food, and because they choose their acts well.

So I thought I'd give Kamikaze Hearts a listen, since they already come with the Club Passim stamp. It's a little hard to listen to them objectively and as themselves, since to my ear at least the frontman's voice sounds like Ben Folds in his less-gentle moments, or Barenaked Ladies' Steve Page: drawling, somehow throaty and reedy at once. I have no particular love for either Ben or Steve, so it's hard to listen fairly at first.

I suspect they're one of those bands that are better live, which increases my chagrin at not being able to go tonight; recorded they sound like serviceable, enjoyable folk-veined indie rock, but live they've drawn intelligent raves from sources that I respect (sources that unlike bloggers, have the necessity or the motivation to write about music they don't adore).

They've got a new CD Oneida Road; Top of Your Head I like, but it's got the strongest Barenaked Ladies impression--their instrumental style and genre allegiances are entirely different, but the vocal impression is (for me anyway) unshakeable, and it only gets stronger in "You Can't Just Leave".

No One Called You A Failure is a little easier, but it's "Defender" that's much easier to listen to as an independent song; the four-part harmony is enough to obliterate the distracting resemblance, and it becomes clearer that they're a strong group both in writing and in performance--the grimly upright side of folk is always appealing, and it's well done here.

The vocal resemblance disturbs me; it's unfair to the band that I shouldn't be able to hear them clearly because they sound like a singer I don't particularly like; but them's the breaks, I suppose. It seems inevitable but unfair that most singers end up standing or falling on the similarities of their timbre and manner to preceding singers. But I'd still like to see them live.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you should do something else in your life that write about music!