Kinch-Musical Bliss To The Extreme

Kinch is, simply put, great. Everyone seems to know it, everyone will admit it immediately. I’m not sure there is another band in Phoenix who nearly everyone agrees is great. I have never heard another musician say a word against them or even utter something less than unbridled praise. They are heralded by others as amazing musicians who always put on an amazing show and have had a slew of stunning releases over the last few years, many of which they simply gave away as free downloads. This was never more clear than last month at the CD Release show for the brilliant new album The Incandenza at the Rhythm Room, joined by the new full band version of Yellow Minute and Letdownright, the house was packed and many of the fans were members of other noteworthy bands in this town, including members of Black Carl, Ladylike, Dry River Yacht Club, Future Loves Past, Flamingo and What Laura Says. There they all were, drinks in hand, smiling and dancing to celebrate Kinch’s latest creation.

There is something admirably brilliant about Kinch’s calculated indie rock sound—it is the best of all worlds, drafting supreme hooks, with enough rock and grunge heaviness to keep you moving and grooving and there is just an intense likeability to everything they do, whether it is on the stage or in the recording studio. They somehow siphon the best elements of exciting music from the last twenty years and coalesce it into something uniquely their own—there is no mistaking Kinch for someone else and there is no forsaking the talent and time they spend making their music great. This may be a part of the secret to their indie success—Kinch knows exactly what they’re doing and they’re doing it right, and this is perhaps what everyone else recognizes or admires. The Incandenza is the newest accessory in their string of amazing records and proof positive that they can expand their sound without losing a step or missing a beat.

The Incandenza starts off with a dizzying number of an intro with “When I Was Young” and it immediately draws you into the experience you are about to have with this ever inventive, imaginative band. Musically, it is a pocket symphony designed to blow your mind with studio headphones held tight to your head. Each measure grows immeasurably in depth and sound, as it brings you into the territory they are now treading. The refrain of “I never want to see you when you get that high” is revealing and revelatory at once, the lyricism matches the depth of the music offered here and no mind will leave this song left untouched by either it’s mastery or mysticism. I don’t offer this up loosely, but we are treading on Brian Wilson territory at the height of his abilities and that is a reference that was a bit bandied about during their CD release show.

“Evelyn” returns Kinch to Earth with a deep down grunge meets power pop sound that clears the air for a moment, give us time to breath and just headbop rock out with an indie rock sound that is as with much of their catalog, eerily familiar yet exclusively their own. What amazes as the album transforms into itself is that the energy, not unlike that of their live shows, never abates—there is something keeping the listening continually going. I could find those references in my own record collection, like the Swedish garage rock masters Mando Diao, but I’ve never even met anyone that listens to Mando Diao other than me. They may want to think about touring Sweden, now that I think about it.

I’m not going to lie, for some reason, every time I hear “Like A Curse” it gives me chills. Maybe it’s that it’s a perfectly concocted, upbeat pop number with a dark lyrical overtone that creates a beautiful discord in my soul, but it gets me every time. The song is orchestrated on a grand scale and the backdrop comes down like hard monsoon rain on hot Phoenix streets. The lyrics alone are haunting and amusing at once, mentions of getting up at “the crack of noon” as well as, “You huddle around the body like a curse and you reach down at her ankle out of the hearse”—it all creates a strange contrast between what is going on musically and lyrically, it challenges your mind and soul to some how marry the darkness and light. It’s something music should ask you to do more often.

Photo by Tim Harmon

“45 Minutes” launches in like another a hard rocking number, that doesn’t let up one iota. There’s more than a bit of homage to Bleach era Nirvana or any of the premium offerings from Sub Pop circa 1989. Yet, once again Kinch adds a bit of something special to their mix to make it halfway closer to the Vaselines or the garage rock bands of the 1960s that inspired them all in the first place. The band at this point seems to record as some sort of mystical genre bending chemists, finding all the right places to please whatever receptors you have open to the experience. This song is close to the musical equivalent of psychosis and every bit as brilliant as that last mad dash you make toward sanity. “Just take me to a minute, I’ve got blood in my mouth… in 45 minutes I’ll be out of here…I’m out of here tonight.” Stunning.

When we return to ghostly echoes and the keyboard jauntiness of “That’s Just The Mess That We’re In” we’re ready for it. The stark darkness of the preceding two songs washes away and the accessibility of this tune is refreshing, it compares to latter day Spoon, but with an edge about it and it is at this point in the album, where I wonder why they aren’t on Merge yet. I’m a sucker for horns and this song has it a plenty and if it hasn’t been chosen already as the next promo single, it should be. It’s one of those great anthemic numbers that could describe your life at any crucial point in time ever. Think “Way We Get By” updated for a crowd a near decade later, brilliant every step of the way.

What follows is the decided centerpiece for the album. “Once, I Was A Mainsail” was released as a single this past February. The song is brilliant, at first slowly loping with hypnotic surf guitars, a sing-a-long part that made you think the band was at sea and finally exploding into something that would make The Pixies proud. This is what makes Kinch great. Honestly, The Pixies could have never made this song, this had to be done by Kinch, many years after their passing. We should feel blessed to see this, hear this, the music that the bands we loved as children influencing new music that in the end, may well be better than what came before. Sure some may think I’m treading on sacred ground here, but I testify that this song stands up to anything The Pixies did in their prime and The Pixies are one of my favorite bands of all time.

“Tea Party Bomba” returns to stark piano chords and exquisite composition techniques—a reminder after the previous rock-out number, that these are composing musicians and they are hard at work. It is with this song, at this point in the album, that this is a call out to the world to recognize their genius, and if they don’t, I have to admit it is the world’s loss. It’s another number where there is a propulsive pop ethic infecting you musically, while the darkness of the lyrics affect you psychically. Remember when music made you feel? Well, listen up and feel again. Darkness follows darkness in its wake and “Bye Bye Bye Bye” does not let up, another piano driven number to do a number on your soul—the opening lyrical segment of “Don’t act like you don’t hear the explosion” isn’t enough…this song will almost slip you into a slumber before the song opens up and blows your mind with the chorus material and the harder pop hooks hit. This song is like staring lovingly at an unpinned hand grenade that has landed in your lap. It takes Kinch to a whole new plane of existence and once more emphasizes that they are currently, the best at what they do. How they do it, well, that’s the new mystery.

The heavy intro to “Ocean” should not dissuade any shy listener, as this could well be the third or fourth single from the album with a heavy emphasis on “warm beer” this stands up as another reflection on youth and the relationships that early on, design us all.  Again alchemically orchestrated to achieve everything on all fronts, this song amazes on all facets as well. “They say you were my first addiction,” indeed. Ah, but when you’re young it is so fun. “VHS” was an explosive crowd favorite at the CD release party and here is another strange quirk about Kinch, how on one album they can evoke Nirvana, Spoon and in this case Coldplay? Sure it’s Coldplay with guts, but nevertheless, the synthesis is complete here and by the second to last track on the album it is clear that Kinch can do no wrong.

“The Incandenza” is, of course, the finale and it is as an intensely orchestrated number as the opener, creating the sense of amazing bookends to the library between them. Once more Kinch is uniquely their own even when they are treading familiar territory. The themes of love and loss, of the past failures in perspective of recent triumph, the microscopic take on macroscopic life, all of these things come through in this last epic song and gives the album the much needed sense of completion, even as musically, it seems to fall apart.

The Incandenza by Kinch is an epic release from a band that should see the like of success that the bands they’ve opened for have experienced. Kinch is clearly at the top of the heap when it comes to our local loved ones. If you don’t believe me, please be sure to check out the album which is currently streaming for free on their BandCamp website. Sit back, with headphones on and lose yourself in the pure indie rock energy that is Kinch in their latest incarnation. Musical bliss to the extreme.

Official Website for Kinch

Kinch Bandcampe Site

(Note: An edited version of this appeared in the November issue of JAVA Magazine)