Kill Creek – Colors of Home

Kill Creek
Colors of Home

Kill Creek has a long and storied past, especially by rock’s standards, and they have proven to be one of the most influential bands on indie rock from the midwest. However, few people know of this band. Despite being on Mammoth Records for most of their career, this band from Kansas City has somehow managed to escape notice. Now, with their first new release since 1996, Kill Creek might finally get, if not the fame, at least some of the respect they deserve.
The band’s earlier work, as evidence on their sampler/retrospective released last year, was more rocking than Colors of Home, clearly showing how bands like The Get Up Kids and The Casket Lottery were influenced by these folks. The band’s penchant for moments of silence broken by bursts of rock continues here, but many of the songs are toned down a bit, played with something of an alt-country feel yet still comfortably rock. The guitars still are tight and precise, and singer Scott Born still has a strong, powerful voice that helps make these songs as good as they are. And with longtime producer Ed Rose manning the boards, this album is almost impeccable.
“Hardly Accounted For” kicks off the album with a fairly slower rock/alt-country feel, kicking in some rock guitar lines but keeping the pace slow, and that pattern is repeated on several of the songs here, including the follow-up, “Gett Up.” On “Without It,” however, they mix in a more deep, rich sound with some more up-beat guitars, upping the tempo a bit and presenting a greater sense of urgency to the song. There’s a comfortable pop feel to these songs as well, as evidenced on the more hook-laden and catchy “Mousetrap.”
It’s not until the fifth song that I think Kill Creek really shows off their talent and depth. “Divorcee” is downright beautiful, especially by the middle when you get quiet acoustic guitar and luxurious saxophone, creating a wonderful, rich song that’s obviously deeply personal as well. And it leads into the hard-rocking “Serotonin,” which brings to mind the band’s earlier songs, a straight-ahead and kick-ass rock song. “Grandfather’s Left Side,” my favorite song on the album, reminds me of a Tragically Hip song, with fantastic vocals and a strong rock/pop rhythm. “Kathleen” sounds even more of an alt-country piece, with steel guitar and yet still a rocking, powerful guitar and emphatic vocals. And it ends nicely with the short and simple “Prying,” a roots-focused track with some nice guitar.
Sometimes a band benefits from losing their large label support and just taking some time off to think things through, maybe start over. Kill Creek’s latest effort might strike some as too mellow, too country-tinged, although it’s clearly not a country album. But it shows the band maturing, developing a new sound that’s still true to their old. And every song on this album is a stellar work. If you haven’t heard them before, it’s definitely worth hearing them now.