kindlewood Debut Sparks No Fire





Once a band is declared buzz-worthy we’re supposed to love it, right? kindlewood has generated a lot of buzz, perhaps because their lead vocalist, Kelci Smith, is the sister of Joshua Tillman, the drummer for the even hotter Fleet Foxes. Well, count me among those who simply don’t “get” what this band intends. They package themselves as “alternative folk,” a term that means …? To my ears kindlewood is the acoustic analog of 60s and 70s art rock bands that generated attention by being so oblique and enigmatic that hipsters fearfully embraced them lest they expend all their cultural capital by admitting they hadn’t the foggiest idea about the band’s message.

There are some lovely parts to Desiderium but the album has so little shape or structure that each individual part is like a single drop of paint on a very large canvas–as if we were listening to the start of a Jackson Pollock painting. The songs are New Age in sentiment, the music is trippy but meandering, and Smith’s lead vocals are annoyingly nasal. The promo material evokes Simon & Garfunkel and Jeff Buckley, but kindlewood lack Paul Simon’s poetic and melodic gifts, Art Garfunkel’s harmonic magic, or Jeff Buckley’s range or dark edges. Aside from the unusual decision to incorporate a glockenspiel into the arrangements, kindlewood struck me as being a project in search of a concept.

Don’t take my word for it, listen to “This House.”


Anonymous said...

"Reviews" like yours just help solidify a band's following and motivate the band to keep making beautiful music, which will continue to evolve into something that years from now will resemble what they do now, but be even better. Isn't that what happens to every band?

Anonymous said...

Glad you like them. I've never pretended that my musical tastes are those of everyone. But I do find the buzz annoying and I find the hype to be bullshit piled on manure. I totally don't get the S & G/ Jeff Buckley analogies. That's just some PR agent trying to piggyback on someone else's fame.

I'd be very surprised if this band is still around 2-3 years from now. But, hey, I've been wrong before. I take solace only in the fact that I'm right more often than I'm wrong. But if this band makes a go of this material, godspeed; I've no personal axe to grind.--LV