Kites is a band comprised of Jo Jo Stephens, Leah Hatmaker, DJ Allen and Nicholas Stephens that recently released an EP entitled Red. The music they play is a combination of roots, rock, folk and jazz that ends up forming into an original style they pull off well on the EP. I enjoyed the music throughout (more on that later) but I immediately gravitated towards the vocals work by Jo Jo Stephens and Leah Hatmaker. I am usually a sucker for the combination of female and male vocals but it works especially well with Kites, which is ultimately one of the aspects that separates them from a slew of other bands.
Kites also do a good job of switching up styles but not deviating so much that it feels disjointed. I was impressed in the way they implemented variation throughout the EP without it feeling forced.
The EP opens with an intro called “Dusk,” which contains a short yet effective piano piece that as it progresses gets layered with instrumentation. It serves as a good segue into one of the highlights entitled “The End.” The song revolves around an acoustic guitar, a circular piano melody and a sluggish (I mean that in a good way) sounding beat. I especially enjoyed the female vocals as the vocalist sounded like an old school jazz singer. Her voice stands out against the instrumentation as if she is a soaring siren of melancholy.
“Home” is also a success but the guitars are covered in reverb and delay, which creates an ambient/post-rock vibe. The reach for epic heights bears some resemblance to both Coldplay and Explosions In The Sky. “I’ll Stay” is an upbeat, festive tune with some great drum work while “Let Love In” is the most grandiose song on the EP. They close with “Without Me” that contains a solid dose of melancholy, nostalgia and hope all rolled into one.
Red isn’t perfect and has its missteps. For instance, I thought their finest moments were in the subtleties and nuances rather than the over the top epic moments. That being said this an enjoyable EP that is well written, has a good flow and certainly worth a spin.
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