Born over the waves of alternative music and by two people in robes at a hot tub, Boy + Kite is trying to bring indie rock back to the heyday of when alternative was a buzz-word. Spearheaded by Austinites Darvin Jones and Beth Puorro, the band combines experimental rock and pop in their debut album Go Fly. The result is a sonic return to the early 1990s.
The first half of the decade brought us the likes of Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr., Lush and a small unknown group called the Smashing Pumpkins. Each brought an ethereal version of rock of four chords siphoned through a fuzz pedal which us kids would listen to on our mix tapes while wearing corduroy pants. When I put on Go Fly, I am immediately taken back to these bands, to when Lollapalooza was weird, and how Boy + Kite would fit into that era instead of one where they post a track on Soundcloud and twelve people immediately hit the “like” button. Their throwback sound helped them win the “Your Shot To Rock” contest which gave the lucky recipient a slot on their Dia De Los Toadies festival and a chance to record three tracks courtesy of the Toadies.
Jones and Puorro trade off vocals against lilting, yet distorted, guitar chords; strumming bass; and quiet, tight drumming. Their music has all of the bright optimism of the dot-com era and Puorro’s commitment to pop shows through with hooky songs like “Ohio,” “Think In Stereo,” and “Dear Lovely.”
“Ohio” shows the best strengths of the band, with wailing guitar interludes, chord progressions that expertly play with the listener’s emotions and have a hook-filled boppiness in each verse; this musical backdrop gives way to a tale of wanting to feel loved versus feeling used. “Think In Stereo” contains all the catchiness of a summer single. I would hold these tracks up to anything on the radio right now and say this band is capable of having their name mentioned outside the borders of “that weird city in Texas.” However, the remaining tracks fall victim to a fledgling band trying to develop an identity and a sound.
While Boy + Kite would like their album to be a summer soundtrack, I have found Go Fly to be a fitting kitchen album. There is enough brightness in the chord progressions and drum beats to make even the most mundane of tasks more enjoyable, yet most tracks do not stick in my consciousness so I can focus on things like making sure I have a meal ready for my pregnant wife.
Classified as a “fabulous for background music” album, Go Fly personifies early 90s alternative for me: wildly experimental, fun singles to force you to pay attention to what the band is doing, a slew of tracks that my consciousness glosses over and a promising sound that will have me remembering their name for future shows and releases. There is enough honesty in their music to hope for the future of what Boy + Kite will offer us.
No matter what anyone says the 90s were yesterday and the 70s will perpetually be twenty years ago. The further we get from