Black Kites – All Wrong EP

Black Kites
All Wrong EP

Ah, yet another band with the word “black” in their name, but this band lives up to it, with guitar-propelled, soaring choruses and “swept-across-the-prairie”, downer vocals. This EP is available on Black Kites’s own record label, Filthy Little Angels, and is comprised of the songs “All Wrong”, “Glass Parade”, and “Sadie”.

Black Kites are comparatively new on the scene, starting out in 2005 in L.A., and they sound like Stoned And Dethroned-era Jesus And Mary Chain hanging out with Mazzy Star. They forgo the narcotic lulls of those bands in favor of a more brisk pace, yet still hold on to a slight alt-country twang to their tunes.

Alan sings and sing-talks in a dry, plain, dispassionate tone, similar to Jim Reid of Jesus And Mary Chain, minus the Scottish accent. Evelyn’s melancholy, nocturnal vocals and inflection recall a less nasal and drowsy Hope Sandoval and a stronger, less breathy Sophie Zelmani.

The tunes are melodic and follow the “verse, chorus, verse” pattern, but do wander away once in a while, especially on the choruses, which are filled with driving guitar rhythms that give the songs a more expansive vibe. These songs may start off slowly, but the build up on the choruses, achieving atmospheric lift-off.

“All Wrong” has an old-time, country feel, with Alan’s laconic vocal delivery, as he straight-forwardly and nasally sings against bell-tone and organ keyboard notes. The verses are quiet and toned down, as a laid-back Alan and Evelyn trade vocal lines. The song soon develops more urgency on the choruses, as guitars kick up the dust and cymbals are smashed, as Evelyn weaves her amber-colored vocals in and out of Alan pointed exclamations. “All Wrong” calls to mind Jesus And Mary Chain’s “Sometimes Always”, a duet which features Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star as guest vocalist.

The next song, “Glass Parade”, is the high point of the EP, with an unshakable chorus of Evelyn’s dulcet, “mourning dove” vocals and shimmering, dynamic guitars. The song starts with sweet, rounded, watery guitar notes that hover in the air as Alan talks almost inaudibly. The guitar strum and beat soon take over and lead into the chorus, with Evelyn exclaiming in a heartbroken tone, sounding like a sharper and more airy Hope Sandoval, as swelling guitars and bell-like keyboards add depth, all bright and upbeat, and a chugging, underlying rhythm propels the song along. The sound fills up with short, circular, reaching guitar crescendos, almost The Church-like in its expansive feel, and backed by a rapid-beat marching drum, guitar twangs, cymbal shimmer, and bell notes. The fast marching beat gradually falls away, leaving only the calm vibe of bell tones and twangy guitar notes.

The closer “Sadie” is reminiscent of the previous song, with the same instruments and similar tempo, but with different vocal patterns. Alan starts sing-talking unassumingly against drums, guitars, and bell-note keyboards. On the choruses, as the guitars rush in, he exclaims in short phrases as Evelyn sings around his voice in a crying, plaintive tone. This song has less dynamic modulation than “Glass Parade” – it’s mostly all brisk-tempo, steady beat, guitars, keyboards, and cymbal shimmer from start to finish.