If the Beastie Boys woke up one morning and decided they were an indie folk band, you’d probably have the Kinetic Stereokids. Every so often some of that rap precociousness would spill over and the pull to experiment would be stronger than any force life ever imagined.
‘Course, Kinetic Stereokids are no Beastie Boys. And, by god, they don’t hafta be, now do they?
They are a committed, entertaining, enchanting Michigan-based outfit drawn from basement rock-out sessions among friends. Comparisons to the aforementioned Beasties, Can, Elliott Smith, Mogwai, Beck, and so forth abound and are reinforced within seconds of listening to Kid Moves, the band’s second album.
Naturally, the Kinetic Stereokids infuse the music with their own misshapen sense of things and cleverly create their own identity – or lack thereof.
Kid Moves opens up with a rollicking jam tinged with electric guitar and beats to die for. “Free Money” has a great summertime appeal, bouncing and whistling with a happy melody and likeable vocals. The abrupt drops of feedback and the howling, crusty guitar solo drilling away helps accent the reality that this is no ordinary indie folk shit and that Kinetic Stereokids are no ordinary band.
At times, the samples and distorted radio fuzz can get a bit dizzying. The songs are often noisy and often busy, leading to a sort of obnoxious sonic alchemy that takes a bit of getting used to. There’s a lot going on within the background of a typical tune, to be sure, but there’s also a helluva lot to like.
Banjo and acoustic guitar meld together for “Have a Nice Day,” kicking off a decent folk piece. A deformed, rough-sounding violin highlights the musicianship these guys are capable of, adding to an Americana vibe.
This album was built with the intention of creating a folk music tableau and slathering it with sloppy nacho-cheesy haze. “Kid Moves was originally conceived as being a project in which we would create these very delicate, almost baroque folk songs and alter them to the point of disfiguration,” frontman Justin Ford told quietly loud.
The near-8-minute “Planes with Teeth” brims with that sort of disfiguration. Starting off with a divine groove, the track uses incongruous vocals, scratches, stacks of samples on top of stacks of samples, rap, clattering acoustic, and anything else these experimenters can think off to push the limits of song construction. It’s either spectacular or completely horrific.
And that’s just it: these songs are ditheringly beautiful, confusingly resolute, absurdly uncomplicated. Their style brims with modish musical conundrums, bowling strikes with sample-heavy grit and filthy poppish folk to the point of being utterly, explicitly unclear. Confused? You better be.
Whether rolling through a sort of surplus sound necropolis (“Proper Etiquette”) or attempting a Mellow Gold-era Beck vibe with “Twisted Thoughts,” these Kinetic Stereokids are serving the Master of Disfigured Jams with reckless abandon. One of the boldest, grittiest, weirdest records I’ve heard so far this year, Kid Moves is chic junkyard scrap.