With the agreeable and temperate weather, that both the north and south of the UK has been enjoying this week, we have something of a perfect selection for you, with today’s band proving your ideal afternoon soundtrack. There’s a theme to the top and tail of the UK with today’s post as our blog is based in the South, but it’s the Northern music blog, Crack In The Road, to thank for today’s tip, so credit to the Newcastle blogger Josh and the gang for this delightful highlight. If you’ve never visited Crack In The Road, then you really should. They share lots of taste with The Recommender, post lots of new music every week, establishing themselves as a useful member of this countries online music discovery service. The UK is blessed with a history that’s rich with a wonderful musical heritage, so it’s only right that our blogging community – and it is a community – reflects that, but it’s actually from California that today’s recommendation arrives.
The people behind the group, KO KO, are the Lawhorn brothers, Ryan and Taylor, who grew up in the North of California, but now reside in the south, where they’ve collected together a range of additional musicians to create some wonderful music. It’s a State known for it’s perpetual summertime, which has served to bleed into their gorgeous music. We got in touch with Ryan recently and he described his group as being “friends with simple lives, writing songs which, like us, have never seen a real winter“. They only started this project in January 2012, but the early output has delivered some bright music, suffused with light and a delicate, refined quality. A three-track single was made available online a few weeks ago on their Bandcamp and each tune is beautifully exemplary. Josh likened them to Miike Snow, which is true to a large extent, but for anyone who is aware of Freedom Or Death, a duo that have earned many pages on The Recommender, you will find many similarities. It’s music that feels truly alive, as you get melodies with heart, ideas that are as clear as air and synths that breathe throughout.
You will be hard-pressed to find a more touching chorus than the one found inside of their song, So Strange. It’s central lament is so expansive and free, as they sing about the liberation from mortality, “I try to run to free my soul, wide open space can be so cruel“. As it’s such early days, they of course remain unsigned – for now – and are yet to put together a live show, but we would love to see their music played on a sun-drenched outdoor stage. Their tune, Float, continues their trademark light touch, with themes of hope in the face of adversity and the weight of youth as they look out upon the life before them. It’s another delight, as they bravely whistle a melody and skip through at a lightly tapped pace, although we are yet to see them try and either push the boundaries of their expansiveness further, or any darker themes deeper. The best chance we have to observe how capable they are of removing any heartbeat and wondering through the dark is with the tune, Intermission. They play the part of a character alone, begging for the “show to stop“, offering to “pay you back if you can drive me home“. Its sparse imagery still maintains a wonderful sense of storytelling, so what they lack in heartbeat, they make up for with soul.
They may suggest that they make music that has never experienced winter, but they’re capable of taking things to a colder temperature, even though their music only ever has the weight of a summertime breeze. This is a lesson in maintaining depth without any real avoirdupois. Their songs come from a place of substance but drift around you like butterflies. It’s a remarkably mature craft on show from this collective, suggesting this isn’t their first attempt at making music, but although that fact remains un-confirmed, this isn’t a collective that can enjoy the history of the super-group, Gayngs, or their more recent reincarnation, Polica. KO KO are setting themselves up well for some wider attention, as they’re delivering songs with such a tidy and spotless production. Like those other bands that we’ve mentioned on today’s post, this is music that will appeal to a British audience, so we hope that one day they can make it over here. We suggest they not only literally have a distance to go before they can manage getting over here, but metaphorically speaking their careers will also have to travel further first. However, whether it’s the North or South of California, or the North and South of the UK, good music will always transcend geography and distance. (MB)