(feat. track – “Comfort In The Orchestration”)

There’s nothing else on my list this year that sounds like The Reign Of Kindo; I’m not sure there’s ever been.  In part that’s because they have a sound that’s really hard to pin down.  They’ve been called “jazz rock” but their song structures come much more from the traditional pop music world. (It does capture the pure tones they favor both instrumentally and vocally, and the swing in their step, pretty accurately at least). They’ve been lumped into the “jam band” scene at times, though they by and large eschew improvisation in favor of tightly composed songs, and stay far from noodly solos and noodleheaded hippie-prattle.  They formed from the remnants of the gone-too-soon melodic emo act This Day And Age, but while they carry on the penchant for expansive soundscapes, they branch much further stylistically.  They could comfortably fit into the lighter end of “progressive rock” though they rarely really “rock” and couldn’t be further from its wackier theatrical impulses, especially lyrically, where they stand firmly grounded in the day-to-day.

How bout we just call them really freakin good at what they do?

This Is What Happens ebbs and flows like a full composition, from the insistent stomp of “Thrill Of The Fall” to the dissonant rumblings pockmarking “Bullets In The Air” to the sweet melodic melancholy of “City Lights & Traffic Sounds,” tied together by the twin engines of Joe Secchiaroli’s crystalline vocals – pure and clear with not a hint of grit or imperfection – and Steve Padin’s ceaselessly inventive drumming.  Between their top and bottom is just the right amount of space for the (incredibly talented) band to dance, and they test out every step in the book through the course of the album.  They prove facile at each and every one.  It’s a level of instrumental skill that frees The Reign Of Kindo compositionally; unconstrained by their talents, the songs have room to grow to their fullest.

It doesn’t hurt that they are some of the nicest guys I’ve met either.  My brother toured with This Day And Age in the middle of last decade and has remained friends with the band members, and on the occasions I’ve spent time with any of them I’ve found them to be supremely genuine, friendly, and unentitled.  They make it very easy to root for them, though their music really accomplishes that on its own, and would be in my Top Ten just on its merits even if they were a bunch of pricks.  (They’re also very-good-to-transcendent live, depending on the night you catch them on).

Finally, I want to give Kindo props for what is one of the cooler ideas I’ve seen in a while – rather than packaging This Is What Happens with bonus tracks or b-sides or demos, they instead went way above and beyond and created an 8-bit version of THE ENTIRE CD.  Titled This Is Also What Happens, it’s worth more than a cursory listen, and the only reason I haven’t returned to it more often is I so enjoy listening to the original. I can’t even imagine how much work must have gone into that project.