Reviews:: No Kids Come Into My House

It would be easy to go on and on about how I've been waiting for the new P:ano record. I mean the band had some great tracks, but in reality my excited for Vancouver's No Kids record trickles down from the fact they were picked up by Tomlab.

Tomlab is home to one of my all time favorites - Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (have you heard the killer Springsteen cover he does?) - and ventured into the rock world with Nova Scotia's own Dog Day. The thing is, tomlab is pretty good at weeding out the nonsense, so if you see a band show up in their stable you can pretty well assume they are good and have a unique sound.

No Kids fits that description perfectly. Fueled by Julia Chirka, Justin Kellam and Nick Krgovich of P:ano, the songs somehow use countless instruments, drum machine beats and harmonies, but never does a song seem crowded. Each element is heard crisply and clearly and the results are extremely enjoyable.

The opening track, Great Escape, is an organic number with nice matching drum snares, keys, strings and horn flourishes. You quickly realize that No Kids use precise arrangements that you wouldn't expect from such a young band. Instead of constant ebbs and flows, they prefer syncopated rhythms that expose more classical, jazz roots.

They pick up the pace on the lead single, Halloween. The falsetto vocals and harmonies make this into a funky Prince-ish track, well without tons of purple. The programmed beats dance from channel to channel, making it impossible to sit still and not become engulfed in the track. The delicate strings they add just before the horn breakdown to end the song are amazing and the picked violin strings that open the sexy R & B The Beaches All Closed. The thick reverb on the kick drum add some grit to this track. Bluster in the Air follows suit, letting some nice stabbing strings provide the frame for the trio's falsettos and nicely placed horns.

The album really picks up for me on I Love the Weekend. The Chucho Valdez latin jazz track is terrific. The piano and horns pay tribute to the past, but the vocals really put a modern twist on things. The song is only 3-minutes, but it's easily the most enjoyable track on the record. I like how easily the band switches speeds. After that uptempo songs, they almost go barber shop quartet on Four Freshmen Locked Out As The Sun Goes Down.

It's a great pause in the action before they hit the blue man, factory line stomp of Old Iron Gate. What shocks me every time I hear this song is not how many sounds are combined, but how well they are matched. The random hand claps, the various percussion lines, the vocals; they are woven together but you are able to follow each one. The orchestral strings make and appearance and leave without disrupting the flow of the song and yield to the swirling vocals at the right times.

The complexity of all of those elements doesn’t feel out of place even when you compare it to the relatively simple arrangement they use on Listen for it Courtyard music or Dancing in the Stacks (the nice steel work caught me off guard). The overall cohesion is surprising considering the varying styles No Kids use on the record. So anyway, I've probably gone on way too long, but the record grabbed me on first listen and each subsequent listen strengthens the grip. One of many 2008 releases that are worth noting already.

MP3:: Halloween
MP3:: Old Iron Gate

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