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The Kings of Convenience – Parent Friendly Indie-Folk Makes Good

Posted by December 17th, 2004 No Comments »

That chick is too hot for chess.Album Review
The Kings of Convenience
Riot on an Empty Street
By Aaron Burkhalter

When I first heard the Kings of Convenience on the radio, I was immediately attracted to the melancholy sound of their gorgeous two part harmonies. And I was really surprised to find out they are an Astralwerks band.

“Where’s the beats?” I asked myself! But who can complain about the lack of beats once you throw on the opening homage to the obsessed vinyl grubbing, 60’s loving, phonograph fiends.

Kings of Convenience are not the typical modern sound you’ll hear from the Astralwerks catalog. The group probably has less Kraftwerk in their record

That chick is too hot for chess.Album Review
The Kings of Convenience
Riot on an Empty Street
By Aaron Burkhalter

When I first heard the Kings of Convenience on the radio, I was immediately attracted to the melancholy sound of their gorgeous two part harmonies. And I was really surprised to find out they are an Astralwerks band.

“Where’s the beats?” I asked myself! But who can complain about the lack of beats once you throw on the opening homage to the obsessed vinyl grubbing, 60’s loving, phonograph fiends.

Kings of Convenience are not the typical modern sound you’ll hear from the Astralwerks catalog. The group probably has less Kraftwerk in their record collection than Simon and Garfunkel. But don’t be alarmed naysayers, Belle and Sebastian’s maudlin attempts at humor and the psychedelic sound this certainly is not.

Riot on an Empty Street is no collection of mere mockeries of the 60’s sound, but an album created by an experienced duo of songwriters and singers who see the clear distinction between influence and mimicry. These Norwegians sound like they’ve been harmonizing their vocals since they were wee children singing their supper prayer over a fresh plate of lutefisk.

This album is mellow and slow throughout and it would take conscious effort to tire of this music. Riot initially comes across as Simon and Garfunkel for a younger crowd, but stands the test of repeated listening on their own merits of songwriting, sheer musical talent and studio production. After getting settled with the album, the initially obvious influence fades into a subtle flavor instead of pure derivation.

Is there a downside to this album? Perhaps. Anyone searching for music that is pushing the edge and treading new territory might be put off by something that wears its influences so proudly on its sleeves.

This is not bare bones rawk. This is parent friendly indie folk. This is the band you bring home to mom and dad for their overwhelming approval. Imagine an underground Norah Jones who, instead of listening to Ella Fitzgerald she listened to Nick Drake. But despite her appearances on the Starbuck’s CD shelf, I can’t help but like Jones’ music. Kings of Convenience has the same effect. They are infectiously attractive to the ear and great to listen to late in the evening.

Ending on a positive note, the best thing I can say to promote this album is to encourage you to listen to “Surprise Ice.” The song is pure gold – one of the best songs I have heard all year. I’m guessing you’ll be equally moved. If not, skip this CD altogether. – (7.5/10)


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