June 2, 2008

Kaki King - Dreaming Of Revenge (2008)

So how exactly does one become a guitar virtuoso? Well, you play drums as a kid in Atlanta, pick up guitar while at NYU, busk around subways for some extra pocket money, sign on as guest guitarist for the likes of Tegan and Sara or Foo Fighters (perhaps you’ve heard of them?), play all the guitar parts for the lead in August Rush, and get nominated for a Golden Globe award for contributing to the Into The Wild soundtrack. It’s just that simple.

What drew me to Kaki King? A rumor that she was banging Tegan and/or Sara (one of today’s finer female indie rock outfits), for one. But also the following Dave Grohl quote: “There are some guitar players that are good and there are some guitar players that are really fucking good. And then there's Kaki King.” Not that we all should believe everything Dave Grohl says like it's the Gospel (and by that I mean we should), but he did make that statement with Serj Tankian and Jimmy Page in the audience. No one is that brazen for just anyone.

King’s fourth release, Dreaming of Revenge, is her most impressive to date. It will reveal to listeners that even though her guitar-playing is an undeniable mainstay, she still stays true to her percussive ability. Combining her signature fret-tapping and slap guitar technique, this adds complexity and layering to her seemingly “simple” melodies. With every tap and slap on her strings, it’s clear these songs (or soundscapes, rather) are written by someone who’s more concerned with instrumental arrangement than anything else. But when you manage to construct a gorgeous wall of sound, who cares about vocals?

To stylistically sum it up: If Ani Difranco, Suzanne Vega and Juliana Hatfield had a musical orgy, not only would Kaki King be the illegitimate love child… she’d also provide the soundtrack. Her technical prowess will appeal to the more scientific listener, whereas her innocent, vibrato-less voice (which hints at great potential) and thoughtful lyrics will appeal to the rest of us. Her vocal ability does not span the wider range of her instrumental genius, but she’s well on her way to musical longevity.

Favorite lyric:
I don’t want to go, but I can’t say I’ve had a good time.

Stand-out tracks:
Pull Me Out Alive (staccato vocals reminiscent of early Ani Difranco)
“Sad American” (wistful, atmospheric, lush, ethereal instrumentals)
Montreal (beyond explanation)

The final verdict: If you can’t exact revenge yourself, get your dose of sweet Revenge here. Kaki King lulls us with swirling guitar melodies that are dreamy enough to put you to sleep… or give you something soothing enough when you just can’t get to sleep.


Nightrain said...

Very nice. I'll have to check it out.

On another note: If I was going to have an illegitimate love child with either Ani Difranco, Suzanne Vega or Juliana Hatfield, I would have to go with Juliana Hatfield. For serious.

Mona said...

Nice to "meet" you, this was my very first review :) Wow, you can't pick who you get with... it's an orgy. Honestly, when it comes to chick rockers, I'd much rather one-on-one with PJ Harvey. She's just bigger and better than most female (and male) rockers these days! What review you working on now?

ancientindianwizard said...

is there an emoticon for a slow clap? nice review i can safely say that this album would never have been near my radar if it weren't for reading this.. being a fan of Tegan and Sara, Suzan Vega and many things Grohl my curiosity is certainly piqued! Nicely done Mona!!

Mona said...

Nice to officially "meet" you as well :) Seriously, she makes me want to be a hip, lesbian rocker! Damn me and my heterosexuality. And yeah, Grohl is the rock god I pray to :) Let me know what you think after listening to this one, would love to hear your thoughts.

Nightrain said...

Oh yes I can...

..and I shall answer you question with a post.

Thoughts to come.