Reviews for [RL63]
Kent State "Singles Club #7- Behind Closed Doors"
Kent State does it again, on their slickest release yet. Continuing to develop the vein hinted at on their slew of early 2012 EPS, these are four songs of polished '90s retro jams.
"Behind Closed Doors" manages the difficult feat of sounding as cocky, confident and brash as any Brian Jonestown Massacre or Dandy Warhols song. Tambourines, backing female vocals and clean production set this apart from previous KS tunes. "Disconnected," featuring Airlooms, makes it very clear that the singer's disconnected from society and really doesn't give a fuck. "Formaldehyde" continues the brash tone of the first two songs, but "Time Crimes II" might be my favorite track on the EP. Opening with gently strummed guitar and distant, indecipherable singing, "Time Crimes II" slows the pace down and effectively changes tempos. After the swagger and snottiness of the first three songs, it hints at something different lurking behind the 90s popisms.
- Willfully Obscure
I wanted to give everybody a heads up on the extremely limited cassette release of the latest Kent State (as in the band, not the university) product, the Behind Closed Doors ep, the physical version of which is limited to a mere fifty copies. Rok Lok Records is selling it here, but act fast!
The centerpiece (title cut, duh) is a bruising, raunchy maelstrom drizzled in big chunky glops of scuzz guitar, with one foot firmly in the garage, the other fixing to bolt to the shoegazer dystopia of your wildest fever dream. Up next, the punkish thrust of "Disconnected" is aided and abetted via the collaborative efforts of Airlooms. And if you ask me, it's a real bitch that "Formaldehyde" and the uber-woozy "Time Crimes II" clock in at just over a minute apiece, given that each of these fleeting experiments are equally as engaging as "Behind Closed Doors." I've likened Kent State to Swervedriver in at least one past critique, and that band's gauzier, bendier elements infiltrate the proceedings here, but this crew also rip a few threads from the decidedly rawer sonic tapestry of contemporaries Waaves and Cloud Nothings. But don't take my word for it - check out the video for "Closed Doors" below, and if tapes aren't your deal, head over to Bandcamp for your digital fix.
- Built On a Weak Spot
Props to the consistently excellent Wilfully Obscure for alerting me to this four song gem from scuzzy indie-rock purveyors Kent State. Initially heard these guys on their Walk Through Walls EP, and it seems they’ve been quite the prolific group since. Had no idea and a bit disappointed that I didn’t keep up with them, as I was a fan of what I heard previously. Anyway, listening to their new one Behind Closed Doors I can pretty much guarantee I will no longer sleep on what they are doing. These guys, while interesting to begin with, have undoubtedly stepped things up with this release. While the band has, from what I’ve heard, generally had a bit of shoegaze influenced type wash of guitars to them the title track that kicks off the EP is a more of a garage-rock driven piece. A bit of it though kind of reminds me of the dissonant downer vibes that A Place to Bury Strangers have been riding for lord knows how many releases now. The touches here though work for the band, letting it ride a fine line between upbeat rocker and some sort of underlying darker agenda. The second track “Disconnected” continues the garagey trend, with a more straight forward rocker that is apparently a collaborative effort with the group Airlooms. All this is fine and dandy and makes for a nice listen, but it’s not until the final two tracks that Kent State really lay on the hooks. As Willfully Obscure made mention of in his write up of the EP, it really is a damn shame that both “Formaldehyde” and “Time Crimes II” are just barely over a minute long each as they are in my opinion easily the two best things contained on this release. With “Formaldehyde” the band lays on a syrupy thick guitar fuzz with an incredibly catchy riff that just simply ends too abruptly. I could have listened to that all day probably. The same can be said about “Time Crimes II”, a bit more subdued in terms of volume…but no less fuzz driven. Unlike “Formaldehyde”, it has a bit of an airy quality that hints some at their inspiration from Robert Pollard and co. They did cover a GBV song on Walk Through Walls after all. I guess that could also be reasoning as to why these tracks are so short as well. But, at least they exist. Really cool EP from these fellas and hope there is more right around the corner…
- Depression Chamber
Kent State is not an anomaly of a band. They’re really fucking good at what they do, but you can hear the years of playing and honing in on sounds that developed that sound. They’ve released a few split tapes and some shirts as well. I suppose you can call the band a DIY band, and along with the fervor of rocking out, you can actually hear that DIY punk in the music.
Behind Closed Doors is strung out in a wash of psychedelia, the guitars are reminiscent of the almighty Swervedriver, but the vibrations of the music and the overall feel of it is more of a garage psychedelic Fall jam rather than a shoegazey ham. In other words, I think the band is incredibly flexible. Playing jam after jam and willing to switch it up a bit by adding a groovy bassline and tambourine to rock out on a tune. The lyrics are subversive I think, or maybe almost subversive.
Disconnected is a, no other way of stating it, punk song. Although still with the same type of Swervedriver guitar playing. Maybe I get so much of a Swervedriver feel from the songs/this band, because they’re high octane sounding. I mean, they have this non stop pounding to them and it’s more apparent on the B side than on side A. More crushing rocking out follows in the form of Formaldehyde. I kind of think this song gets a little squished in between the middle of the B side during the first few listens as it feels like it ends abruptly, but the kind of ultra hard rock pop vibes eventually give the song some life. You just have to get used to it. The outro to this cassingle is a more poppy, weirdo tune by the name of Time Crimes II. Sounds a little like it was made for 2 a.m. drive homes, or taking the bus to work while having a headache. The catchiest “feeling” song on the tape, at least for me. Pretty sure this is how I feel most of the time. I don’t really do the whole “this is my favorite song thing,” but I feel like this is a really good fucking closer and when the tape ends it sticks with me.
This band is insane. They put this EP up online on their bandcamp to download for freezy. Honestly, it’s another awesome release for a strong sounding band. I think they’re one of the few that have their shit together in Southern California, or at least they sound like it.
Again, Rok Lok Records puts on that cute little bird. The J-Card cover is in full color, with an awesome art by Emma Maatman.