Praise for “If Then Not When”
Spectral murder ballads, from Kentucky
Bringing together alumni from bands including Shipping News, Rachel’s and The For Carnation, King’s Daughters & Sons make a music we have come to recognise as very Louisville: atmospheric, complex post-rock music, trudging as though weighed down by some heavy emotional burden. If Then Not When, though, crafts something of stark, sinister beauty. The intertwined vocals of Rachel Grimes, Joe Manning and Michael Heineman recall something of Low’s sombre chorus, but gothic folk tales like “Open Sky” walk a tangled path, starting hushed but building towards blazing, dramatic denouments. (Louis Pattison)
Glorious pastoral folk-rock debut from alt-rock super-group on Chemikal Underground
Not many alt-rock super-groups would simultaneously align themselves with William Faulkner and Led Zeppelin, but then Louisville, Kentucky’s King’s Daughters & Sons are no ordinary band. Formed by members of post-rock dreamboats The For Carnation, post-hardcore troupe The Shipping News and minimalist chamber-rock ensemble Rachel’s (among others), KD&S evoke their variegated origins while making something resolutely other – from the pastoral, harmonic folk-rock of ‘Arc of the Absentees’, through the shimmering piano riffs of acoustic hymn ‘The Anniversary’ to the elemental, instrumental splendour of ‘A Storm Kept Them Away’.
The vintage Tom Petty swagger of ‘Dead Letter Office’ and the lambent guitar tapestries of ‘Sleeping Colony’ further conspire to ensure that If Then Not When is a glorious debut. (Nicola Meighan)
THE LIST (4/5)
At last, we move slowly away from the past. We savour its royalties and seek its information. We wonder for the lessons it will give.
Much could be said of the lineage of King’s Daughters & Sons, and where each member comes from is well-known: Joe Manning a troubadour with a gruff throat and a poet’s pen; Michael Heineman a singer and guitar player whose edge is soft and inviting; Rachel Grimes with a piano is tasteful and serene; Kyle Crabtree a drummer whose angles and flourish never diminish his raw power; and Todd Cook, whose warm, understated bass pays rounds to every note. Their roots have pushed deep into the soil of Louisville’s music — Rachel’s, Shipping News, Dead Child, Grand Prize, to start — and that understandably begs mention. But that is not what this is about.
The music of King’s Daughters & Sons is dense, thickly layered and emotional. It can be calculated and stark, overt and loud. The band is by no means redefining music made by guitars; rather, it is offering a new talking point to the discussion. These songs live somewhere between post-rock tinkling and road music. Manning’s twangy growl blends with Heineman’s smooth tenor and Grimes’ alto to construct sublime, creative harmonies, while the oft-fingerpicked guitars tangle atop a march of drums and bass. It is a grand and dramatic soundtrack with well-placed pauses and explosions that demand patience and grace among its players, and attentiveness of its listeners.
Manning is the storyteller, with a Woody Guthrie delivery, rushing only parts of the narrative that need the bump. The seemingly incongruent mashing of traditional lyric-driven country music and the post-rock sound for which Louisville is known is magical, but it’s not all tales of the King and his daughters and his sons. Other tunes are more theoretical, where Heineman and Grimes draw out single words, wringing from them last trickles of meaning. They wonder how we are where we are and comfort us to confront what we might find there.
That is, if we’re inclined to look.
Stephen George, January 13, 2008