If it ever left, Indie folk rock Americana is back – and it wants to seduce your girlfriend by being smoother, cooler, and deeper than you are. My money is on them. In July, Oakland’s Mr. Kind released OK, a 5 song collection that cruelly teases us with a band that is far more developed than one would expect from a first release.
Made up of an all-star lineup of Bay Area musicians, Mr. Kind is a force to be dealt with, with many weapons in their arsenal. Among the first things I noticed was how well balanced this record is, with songs like “You’re OK” and “The Restless Release” that scratch that rocker itch, “The Artist” to hit that shuffle blues/country feel, and “Homeostasis” to make you tap your feet and wiggle some ass.
The songwriting on this record is absolutely brilliant. There’s so many great lyrical turns-of-phrase and melodic hooks that it makes me wonder what could have possibly have been left out. Evidenced by the overall product, this is obviously a band built from experience, by musicians that enjoy playing, and playing together. Of particular note, the rhythm section of Kyle Kelly Yehner on drums and Matt Roads on bass has a wonderfully warm and jazzy signature that keeps even the soul churning song “The Artist” playful.
Brian Bergeron and Jonathan Devoto front this band with gorgeous vocals and richly dynamic guitars. If anything this group makes up a fantastic family, and the collaborative nature screams of obvious comparisons to bands like Wilco, The Hold Steady, The Gourds and perhaps a less dark Raconteurs. For my money, this is easily one of the most fun bands I’ve heard come my way in the past year. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say I had two clear thoughts when I finished listening first spin through. First, this record, and this band, is just really damn good. I don’t mean like good, not great, I mean OOOOH – this is GOOD. Secondly, I’m stumped for what to improve. I’ve been around enough bands that I can usually pick up a couple spots where I’d have done something different – more of this, less of that, cut drums to half-time – whatever… I have to admit – I got nothin’. It’s just a great album from a great band.
Do yourself a favor, check these guys out. It’s a great road trippin’ sunny afternoon driving record. Also join me in begging and pleading for them to work on releasing a new full length and touring to Denver so I can see ’em live. These guys have every reason to succeed (I’m certain Zach Braff is already trying to put them on a soundtrack SOMEWHERE…) and I hope like mad they’ll release more material as soon as possible… But don’t play it around your girlfriends, because they’ll dump you for a member of Mr. Kind, no doubt.