As I cross the finish line of writing my book Sonic Seducer: Lust For Life Through Our Heaviest Moments, Memories, and Magic of Rock and Roll, I am feverishly trying to listen to as much new music as possible before everything gets locked in. Speaking of being “locked in”, that is what Close Encounters, the third album from Boston’s KIND, will do to you upon just hearing the opening seconds. It’s an unrelenting charge of riffs, punchy bottom, and soaring vocals.
KIND – Close Encounters (Ripple Music)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Sunil Singh
The opening number feels like a wrestling match between Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger and Kyuss’s Wretch. Throw in the vocals that you become addicted to and hope show up throughout the album [they do] and this is one beast of a track to open the album. Like any killer opening song that I listen to, I invariably listen to it twice, at least, before moving forward. The album only gets better, integrating the sonic pummeling with soothing vocals.
While the album will drift through many decades of influence, for the second song, it stays put in the early ’90s but has tinges of contemporary stoner rock throughout. The pacing and the vocals are channelling Alice In Chains throughout. But it’s not in a nostalgic way. It’s in a way that feels urgent and missing. Yup. Once again, I didn’t advance to the next song. Just two songs in, and I know that this is an album you play only in its entirety.
Favorite One faded out with some trippy vocals, so it was a seamless transition into Black Yesterday, which showcases the psychedelic card KIND plays at various points of the album. The importance of the vocals definitely kick by now. Chris Riggs, who did yeoman’s work with Roadsaw and Antler, shines just as brightly here. And while the song gets comfortable with a more spacey groove, a landslide of boulders tumbling all over the song is never far away.
When I was making my review notes for each song, the only one I made for this one was “stellar vocals”–and this after I had already familiarized myself with the strength of them on the album already. But, wow, just listen to Snag. The vocals just soar. They leave such a mark that you forget there is this supportive muscle of guitars and drums chaperoning them the whole time. It’s as if the Gallagher brothers grew up in the Palm Desert and not Manchester.
Okay. Now it’s head-nodding and boot-stomping time. The vocals are still there, but now it sounds as if Kory Clarke of Warrior Soul–one the most underrated bands of all time–has resurrected himself with a new purpose to fight another day. And, anytime the vocals are absent, you really appreciate how undeniably heavy KIND is with their stoner/doom/psych attack.
This song feels nostalgic to me. Darryl Shepard, who used to be in Milligram, must have subconsciously brought that influence to Power Grab. The seductive power of Milligram was equal parts punk delivery, catchy riffs, and catchy vocals. Their cover of We Are 138 by The Misfits is one of the greatest covers of all time. A good chunk of that energy is captured here.
Of The Ages
Seamless transitions are one of the hallmarks of this album. Of The Ages takes the baton from Power Grab and keeps the ride in high gear. The vocals are still strong as hell, but the guitars are really prominent here, especially the middle section, where an absolute monster of a psych/space groove wants to, at least temporarily, take over the song. If I have to have a favourite song, this just might be. But, ask me again a day later, and I am pretty sure I will change my mind.
What It Is To Be Free
The first bands that came to mind in terms of possible influence were Quicksand, Monster Magnet, Cream, and The Yardbirds. As such, this song is the psychedelic highlight of the album. You just want this song to go on forever. But, when the vocals take charge again, you want the song to finish with more economically time-conscious punk sensibilities. It’s one awesome problem to have. It’s also damn unique in 2023. The unapologetic joy ride into the high desert now begins.
Strutting out with a little Are You Ready feel of Thin Lizzy, the final song is a top-down cruise with nothing but sand and palm trees. I cannot think of a more perfect gear to take out this album, top-down and desert wind hitting your face.
KIND’s third album, a title which completes the title of the 1977 movie, must be in consideration for album of the year. The diversity of sounds and the seamless packaging of them with infectious vocals makes it nothing less.