Review Summary: Lost in a clutter of jewel cases, indie-rock supergroup Kid Kilowatt stick out for all the right reasons.
Hydrahead Records have a neat, effective way of marketing. What they do is put a dark-orange strip of paper that runs along the top of the CD that stands out beyond the normally grainy visual that most people see. This dark-orange piece of paper is what drew my attention to bands like Botch, Pelican, Cave In, and now, Kid Kilowatt. Unlike the other bands mentioned, Kid Kilowatt have flown completely under the radar, which is odd considering their branches with the bands Converge, Cave In and Piebald. One reason for this indie-rock supergroup’s low profile can be linked with their short three year life, from 1996-1999, in which only a handful of shows were played. Beyond that, in 2004 was their only notable release, Guitar Method 1996-1999
. Granted they didn’t release a record until five years after they were disbanded, but usually word of mouth gets around a music community and get some what noticed. After all, it’s not like they are lacking talent or a direction with their music. All members were experienced musicians in partially popular bands, at the time, and their focus was more with indie-rock that borders with post-hardcore. To put it in understandable terms, they didn’t suck. With Kid Kilowatt’s only album, Guitar Method
, they created a cohesive, emotional release.
My familiarity with Cave In and Piebald is practically nonexistent. From the few songs that I have heard from each band, it appears their music influences Kid Kilowatt’s style, which they mold for their own unique style. “The Scope” starts off as with one of the heavier tracks, similar to “Cross Out the Eyes” off Thursday’s work, Full Collapse
, but with more indie-rock influence. Kid Kilowatt’s vocalist Aaron Stuart has a pretty calm voice, like a more refined Cap’n Jazz, especially in the rare segments where he screams. A prime example of such is in “Red Carpet,” one of the shorter, fast paced songs on Guitar Method. Stuart’s vocals compliment each song perfectly, like in “Blue/Green Heart” and “Radio Pow For Now,” two catchy and poppy songs which ooze with lush vocal harmonies. Yet, vocals are just the beginning of what Kid Kilowatt do right. For its one-minute, forty second length, "Cadence for a Rainy Day" sweeps listeners up in a daze of electric guitar under Stuart's depressing croon, which makes it more than just an interlude. On the other hand, “Rushing to Relax” is the polar opposite with an upbeat tempo complemented with dual acoustic guitars and finger snapping, with maracas keeping the beat, and the song ends up being unlike anything else on the record.
The three bonus tracks are among the best on the album. “Glass Of Shattered Youth” and “Blue/Green Heart” are both filled with quirky guitar hooks and some of the most technically sound guitar and bass work on the album. “Tug Of War” collects most of the experimental ideas off the record and creates one of the most moving and dramatic songs on Guitar Method
. Its verse layered with hymnal vocal tones behind an acoustic-industrial-esque beat, followed by a gleaming chorus entwined with a sludgy, emotional feeling. Elsewhere, the album is less experimental but keeps a steady consistency of well-balanced indie-rock songs. Such that is present in “Bicycle Race” and “Peeping Tomboy,” two lively songs with modest tempo changes between the verse and chorus to keep a well-rounded, lasting effect.
Personally, it sucks that Kid Kilowatt never had the opportunity to grow and thrive with their music. In fact, I am taken back by how tight
and cohesive Guitar Method
is. It is a shame that Guitar Method
is all they had, but maybe it is for the better. After all, it left less room for Kid Kilowatt to actually falter. But that’s the thing…knowing that the three bonus tracks were some of the last tracks they ever recorded, it showed they were just building momentum. And now, all that remains is a dark-orange strip of paper on the top of another jewel case for someone else to find.