There is so much superb music out there, but some releases just hit the spot more than most. This EP has been waiting to be heard for 11 years (a 'criminal' offence!) but can at last enrich us. Why is it so good? Well it's no coincidence that Rachel Grimes is involved. She can't know just how fabulous everything she plays/composes/adds to, really is. By no means prolific, but essential listening when she delivers, even retrospectively like this! The band produced 18 mins of pure gold here!
Chemikal Underground is delighted to announce the release of a brand-new EP of Louisville band King’s Daughters & Sons on 12th May 2023 - the band's first new release in over a decade.
King's Daughters & Sons unearthed the raw recordings of these 3 songs 10 years after the release of their debut album “If Then Not When”. Though the band was developing these songs contemporaneously to their initial release, "The Next First Thing" sounds like it might have led to a new, thrilling phase for the group. Here was an evolution that drew on the group’s shared history and pointed to a future which remains unwritten. Rescued from the cellar of time and freshly mastered by engineer Kevin Ratterman these songs feel alive, bristling with intention and promise.
Uncurling gracefully across the Louisville skyline, King’s Daughters & Sons’ narratives are soaked in quiet revelation and shadow. Shining briefly but darkly in the Kentucky underground rock scene that birthed Rachel’s, Shipping News and The For Carnation (all 3 bands share members with King’s Daughters & Sons), these are erudite, evocative depictions of place and the people who suffer, love and live in it.
Recorded in 2012 following rehearsals for their shows to showcase the band’s debut "If Then Not When", "The Next First Thing" completes the picture of one of the great, unsung groups of the era. Naturally evolving into a thrilling, noir rock ensemble, here the group eschew the Southern gothic folk influence of their debut for a more physical, drawn-out sound simultaneously muscular and fragile. Rachel Grimes’ piano yearns outward but is pinned down by Kyle Crabtree’s deep, heavy drums on opener “Bondurant". Immediately the desolation and ragged beauty of Ditch-trilogy Neil Young comes to mind, the band lurch from chord to doomed chord, one guitar swelling while the other laps at the dark shore with chopped up riffs. It’s a sound instantly recognisable for anyone familiar with the band’s history and city, but sewn through each track is an immediacy and cutting vibrancy in how they play the changes. The band wait until the last possible moment before hitting the beat, each snare hit and piano chord hitting right in the chest over Joe Manning’s plaintive vocal. The band carve up the space in front of the listener, the floorboards of the room creak and groan under the weight of Todd Cook's bass thuds, Manning’s centrepiece singing is dressed at the edges by Grimes’ sweet harmonies. Lyricist and singer Joe Manning writes of the inspiration behind the song:
"Bondurant" tracks a simple question to its natural conclusion: What would happen if the fellow who works at the Kentucky Motor Speedway—the fellow who's labored for years paving and repaving the racetrack in the thick Kentucky summer hung with the heavy scent of Magnolia and asphalt, the fellow who spends his weekends under the hood of the track's pace car dreaming of himself a race car driver instead of a nameless laborer—what would happen if that fellow's dreams became, instead, a plan of action? Less simple, but perhaps more universal, is a further consideration: who's recognition do we require for validation? What would happen if we simply engineered the circumstances of our success? In short, what if we just decided to steal the fucking show?
Shadows glide across the paranoid, noirish "Buyer’s Remorse". Manning’s vocal scans like a Leonard Cohen tale, the band smoking in the corner, bringing it down with the beautiful, loose playing of a group of musicians who know each other’s styles instinctively. The music feels alive, dynamic, creeping in the dark, masked in night, before surrounding the narrator with slicing, criss-crossing guitars. Here the group play with the subdued restraint of their parent groups, recalling Shipping News specifically, using the style as a ruse before bursting open into a shuddering rock crescendo.
On closer "Candyland", those heavy drums creep back in from earlier, sounding mean and final, like full stops in Manning’s singing. The result feels like a Bill Callahan song pulled apart by Neil Young’s On The Beach group, thrilling in its gloomy vitality, each instrument played with generosity to each other, locked in sympathy. Grimes' and Michael Heineman’s close harmonies with Manning remind us of the group’s earlier recordings, but here the band are massive, their narratives widescreen, cinematic, open, like Steinbeck novels set in turn of the century Kentucky. On "Candyland" as on the rest of the recordings the lyrics are evocative yet elusive: “It rings through the valley, into the hills, in forests petrified where all God’s creatures stand stock still when the hammer strikes...” It works so effortlessly with the music, which remains open and impressionistic, never resolving and always probing into new gloomy crevices. The EP ends on a cliff-hanger, the chord refusing to resolve to the dominant, like an American Novel with the last page cruelly ripped out, leaving the story open...