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Album Review: The Kissaway Trail – Breach

 
By on Wednesday, 28th August 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

The Kissaway Trail Breach cover2010 saw the release of The Kissaway Trail’s album ‘Sleep Mountain’ on Bella Union, the Danish band’s first release in the UK and further afield from Scandinavia. They wowed new fans with the hard-hitting, yet still dreamy single ‘SDP’. In 3 years’ time, they’ve undergone some growing pains: at the time of the release of ‘Sleep Mountain’ and when I caught them live at Roskilde that year, they were a five-piece, but they’ve since dwindled down to a trio.

Despite having less members, the sound of the Kissaway Trail is in no way diminished in their new album, their third in their music life, out now. ‘Breach’ is an interesting album title, as it conjures up for me a gaping wide chasm in which this band down to three members had to choose between giving up their dream or running and leaping to grab on with both hands the edge of the cliff. By releasing this album, we know the choice they made, and overall, the results are good. Just don’t expect to be wowed by the words, because half the time you can’t make them out.

The dream pop template of the band isn’t tinkered too much with when it comes to the vocals. So for me, it’s the moments of loud, banging guitar that provide the most interest. See the name-checking title of ‘The Springsteen Implosion’, which, if you were wondering, doesn’t sound like any of the Boss’ back catalogue. This is the kind of song you know would be amazing to experience live. Imagine all the hipsters in their skinny jeans and plaid bopping their heads to this. The cheekily titled ‘Sarah Jevo’, with the fullness of its guitars, is another wonder to behold.

So it’s with some surprise that a song like ‘Cuts of Youth (Razor Love)’, with its buzzy synths and its carefree repeated refrain of “nothing else matters / to me”, comes along. (Stream it below.) It’s as if Wayne Coyne himself wrote this, waving his massive laser hands. (A similar sweet relationship sentiment of “in time, I’d do it all for you” appears on ‘Beauty Still Rebels’, just in less engaging song form.) Later on in ‘Breach’, ‘The Sinking’ comes along as a fun, rollicking track that will get hipsters’ feet tapping in no time.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tx-CtlBcHJY[/youtube]

But then there are sleepier, less poppy moments on ‘Breach’ that do anything but excite. ‘Nørrebro’, a district of Copenhagen that I’ve had the pleasure to visit, is immortalised in a Kissaway Trail song here, but in comparison to the aforementioned rockier songs, it comes across as less stirring. (Watch the video at the end of this review.) Opening track ‘Telly the Truth’ doesn’t really get going until nearly a minute and a half in, which is a bit of a shame because the guitar notes without any lyrical accompaniment are admirable and the best part of the song.

And then there is the matter of the echoey attempts at ethereal vocals peppered through ‘Breach’. Perhaps it is cynicism on my part about wanting to hear lyrics clearly and enunciated, but on a song like ‘So Sorry, I’m Not’, which sounds like the band is singing down megaphones and then someone went into the studio and faffed with the sound files further, becomes overwrought and overworked. The vocals on ‘Shaking the Mote’ sound merely incidental, drowned out by the admittedly grand and at times gorgeous instrumentation.

Like their former tourmates the Temper Trap‘s debut album ‘Conditions’, ‘Breach’ from the Kissaway Trail is the kind of album that probably works better as a live experience. Hope I get the chance to test this theory later this year. Fingers crossed.

7.5/10

The Kissaway Trail’s new album ‘Breach’ is out now on Yep Roc. Watch the video for ‘Nørrebro’ below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2dkwvWhGsk[/youtube]

 

Roskilde Festival: Day 4 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 22nd July 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

Sunday. Day 4 of Roskilde. We’re in the homestretch now. It feels like I’ve been running a marathon for the last 3 days (complete with perspiration) and there is some relief that it will be over. But that is tempered largely by the thought that indeed, the festival will soon be over, which means my return to America. A sad thought.

I decide on a lie-in, a relaxing breakfast (as opposed to the semi-frantic protein bulk-up brekky of the day before), not traipsing over to the festival until mid-afternoon. The first act I see is Korean rhythmic group Dulsori, a swirling dervish of drum and stringed instrument players, both men and women. I feel terrible that they are in their traditional garb; they must be boiling. But the power and effort they use to put on a show seems unaffected by the freakishly hot temperatures. I didn’t think they would go down well with a Danish audience, but their performance concludes with loud cheers at Odeon.

Pavilion is close by to Odeon and quite near to what became my go-to food stall for sheer overall food size. (Slight hilarity that most of the food I ate at Roskilde came from a place called ‘Dixie Burger’ that served Southern-American style hamburgers.) And Pavilion is hosting the highly-touted Californian band Local Natives. Maybe it is because the festival is drawing to a close or I have seen so many great acts already, but I am not impressed by the band from Los Angeles. My ears perk up when I hear the riffs of ‘Flake’, a song by American surfer dude Jack Johnson that came out when I was in uni. I hang out with the tired festival-goers in the shade and watch Johnson from the Orange Stage jumbotrons. He was another act that I thought would get ‘lost in translation’ at Roskilde, but his low-key, ambling guitar pop seems to fit everyone here to a T.

After the cut: this review of day 4 continued with more photos.

Continue reading Roskilde Festival: Day 4 Roundup

 

Live Review: The Temper Trap and Florence and the Machine with the Kissaway Trail at 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. – 6 April 2010

 
By on Monday, 12th April 2010 at 2:00 pm
 

The Washington, D.C. branch of TGTF were lucky enough to have tickets to the sold out Florence and the Machine / The Temper Trap double-header this past Tuesday at the 9:30 Club, and it was unforgettable night. For three bands that each have their own distinctive sounds and even come from different countries (Florence is British, the Temper Trap is Australian and opener The Kissaway Trail is Danish), having them on the same bill worked surprisingly well. Some of the audience was clearly there for only one band (there was a noticeable shift in the crowd between Florence and the Machine and the Temper Trap’s sets), but the majority of the crowd stayed throughout the whole show and enjoyed it immensely.

Danish indie band The Kissaway Trail opened the show with a short, 6-song set. Most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with them, but by the end of their set were really getting into it. The band combined keyboards, drums, guitars, bass and tambourine to create a very rich sound without once sounding jumbled or too heavy – quite a feat, in my opinion, with that many musicians. One of the highlights of their set was “61,” a powerful track from their 2007 debut album, which had a gorgeous  5-part harmony. “New Year” was also very impressive, especially the long and intricate breakdown. Switching between different instruments and jumping around the stage, their energy and their passion for the music really showed, and that’s what won the audience over. They closed their set with single “SDP,” a song from their new album, “Sleep Mountain,” which they pointed out wasn’t coming out for a few more weeks in the US (it’s already out in the UK), but they had for sale anyway.

After their set, there was a palpable buzz in the air as the crowd eagerly anticipated Florence and the Machine’s set. To match her flowery backdrop, flowers were added to everything: amps, Florence’s mic, and even a drum they set up for her to play. When she finally came out in a black romper and a sheer glittery cape, the crowd went wild. Everything about her set was incredibly dramatic. Between her flaming red hair, her outfit, the fog and the flashing lights, she was captivating to watch. She used her cape and a shawl as props, taking them on and off throughout the set, and used careful hand and arm gestures for emphasis while she sang. Despite this, nothing came off as too stiff or too planned – she used dramatic poses when they suited the song, but was just as often running and jumping around the stage and encouraging the crowd to join in.

But while Florence Welch is stunning, people don’t go to her gigs to see her, they go to hear her. Her distinctive voice is very powerful and expressive live, somehow even more so than on her album. I never understood before what people meant when they thought her album was over-produced, but hearing her perform the songs live, it became obvious that her voice could easily carry the songs with half as many frills on top. Often the crowd would go silent listening to her sing, which was preferable to the times they tried to mimic her singing, a feat they obviously couldn’t pull off. But Florence didn’t seem to mind when the crowd butchered her songs, she was very touched that on her first time in America, on only the second night of the tour, people were singing along to all the songs. She didn’t speak much between songs, but when she did it was almost always to thank the audience for being so amazing. One of the most impressive things about her set was how well-planned the set list was: she started with less-known tracks like “Howl” and worked her way through more and more popular tracks, so that by the time she closed with her three best-loved songs, “Dog Days Are Over,” “You’ve Got the Love” and “Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up!)”, the crowd was going crazy.

Because there was a noticeable shift in the crowd after Florence’s set, I was worried the crowd wouldn’t be as into the Temper Trap. And while a few overzealous Flo fans shouted her name when she came out onto the guest balcony with her band to watch, for the most part the crowd was loving them. While people were standing in awe a lot for Florence, they were grooving a lot more to Temper Trap. Lead singer Dougy’s soulful falsetto voice is also very distinctive, but in a completely different way to Florence’s. He had a lot of stage presence, shimmying and dancing as he played, and you could tell he put a lot of passion into his performance, as did the bassist. Several girls near the front seemed to find the band incredibly sexy no matter what they did, but I’d say the sexiest song of the night was the slowly building “Soldier On,” which they played in the middle of their set. In the beginning, the backing was minimal and it really showcased Dougy’s voice, but by the end they had built it up into something absolutely massive. Another song they slipped into the middle of their set was their best-known track, “Sweet Disposition.” It caught the audience off-guard and they went mental – absolutely everyone was singing along. “Resurrection” was also very popular. They brought out another drum for Dougy and put it in the middle of the stage. He then poured a bottle of water into it so that water splashed up really high when he played it. It looked incredible, and had the added bonus of being very refreshing for those of us in the front row. For the encore, they played a slower new song called “Rabbit Hole,” which went over well, and their most recent single, “Science of Fear,” which a lot of the audience seemed to know.

Coming out of the gig, my overall impression was how incredibly talented this group of musicians was. They used tricks and props to add drama, but it was all really about the music. To not only see such a diverse and talented group together, but to have them enjoy each others’ company so much and really enjoy touring together was a pleasure to watch.

Behind the Cut: Set Lists and Photos!

Continue reading Live Review: The Temper Trap and Florence and the Machine with the Kissaway Trail at 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. – 6 April 2010

 

In The Post #58: The Kissaway Trail – Sleep Mountain

 
By on Tuesday, 30th March 2010 at 12:00 pm
 

You know that surge of excitement you get when an album opener explodes inside your ears? Good news, “SDP”, the first track off The Kissaway Trail‘s latest album does just that and then some. Bad news, it’s the only one off the LP to put out such an electric bolt of sound. That’s not the say the remainder of songs aren’t good. Rather, it seems the band put so much effort and energy in the six-minute song that the remaining tracks seem a bit deflated compared to the soaring, first single off their “Sleep Mountain” album.

Upon releasing their eponymous album three years ago, the Danish quintet donned the crown of being a poor man’s Arcade Fire. Let’s just say that they have yet to be dethroned. Still, for all the clashing of bells, stretching of accordion limbs and thumping of sonically-infused rhythms, something clearly seems off. Could it be the band is trying too hard to be just like Canada’s kings of baroque pop instead of just creating their own individual sound?

Whatever the case, it’s obvious to spot the above mentioned influence with a song like “Don’t Wake Up”, a powerful tune complete with infectious drum loops, swirling, ambient sounds and the frantic, yet subtle whisperings of lead vocalist Thomas Fagerlund. If Arcade Fire should ever need an alternate or revised version of “Wake Up”, this one ought to do it.

Despite the slight unoriginality in their songwriting ability (“Painter” initially comes to mind), the collision of familiar sounds is refreshing to hear in such tracks as in “New Year” where we hear an emotive, piano driven melody backed up alongside a just as impressive showing of drum chop skills. “Friendly Fire” and “New Lipstick”, meanwhile, both musically and lyrically seem to be reminiscent of fellow Scandinavian outfit Shout Out Louds.

Then, somewhere in the middle of the album Philadelphia comes in. A fragile, string-laden tune where Fagerlund’s vocal abilities glow at their finest. The only problem, however, is that it’s a freaking Neil Young song. Again, no shame in that, other than the fact the band should have used it as a b-side or in the very least a hidden track – if such things even exist anymore. I’ve always been under the impression that a full LP such as this should include a band’s work only. But that’s a futile debate for another time, and The Kissaway Trail seem to think otherwise anyway.

While album closer “Three Million Hours” isn’t as magnificently rousing as the band’s opening track, it’s certainly worthy of grandeur. Layered instrumentation and acoustic plucks gallop earnestly along until its roped into the lyrical and musical corral of yet another North American band, Modest Mouse.

As much as “Sleep Mountain” has to offer, a creative element seems to be lagging. It’s easy to see that The Kissaway Trail has a great depth of potential here, but unfortunately, their delivery just falls short. Let’s hope the band nails it with their next album, because they show capabilities of individual greatness.

 

The Kissaway Trail / March 2010 UK Tour

 
By on Tuesday, 12th January 2010 at 11:00 am
 

Danish quintet the Kissaway Trail have plans for a short UK tour in March.

Sunday 7th March 2010 – Glasgow King Tuts
Monday 8th March 2010 – Newcastle Cluny
Tuesday 9th March 2010 – Birmingham Academy 3
Wednesday 10th March 2010 – London Hoxton Bar & Kitchen

 

MP3 of the Day #137: The Kissaway Trail

 
By on Monday, 4th January 2010 at 10:00 am
 

After a nice long break, here at TGTF we’re back to full strength for 2010 with some great new ideas.

My second favourite band to hail from Denmark (after the amazing Mew), The Kissaway Trail are gearing up to release their second full length album, The Sleep Mountain in a few months time. I first introduced the collective back in 2007, and their debut album was definately a firm favourite of mine.

The press release puts it eloquently:

With Peter Katis (Interpol, The National, The Twilight Sad) producing, “Sleep Mountain” reveals how The Kissaway Trail have grown. Combining the urgency and dynamics of bands as diverse as Sonic Youth and The Flaming Lips with the sensitivity of “Another Green World”-period Eno, and melodies that have the stamp of bona fide singer-songwriters, “Sleep Mountain” is a contemporary, timeless, vulnerable rock classic.

We’ve already offered the wonderful 6 minute epic SDP for download (below), but now we’ve been offered an acoustic version of “Tracey”, a stunningly dreamy, beautiful and fragile track that will have you in awe. Listen, download and enjoy below.

[audio:http://theregoesthefear.com/media/201001/tracy.mp3]
MP3: The Kissaway Trail – Tracy (Acoustic)

[audio:http://theregoesthefear.com/media/200911/sdp.mp3]
MP3: The Kissaway Trail – SDP

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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