Kingsley Flood

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Photo by Michael D. Spencer

In the years since Kingsley Flood released the phenomenal Battles, they’ve released a couple of EPs and a live set. Coming off such an amazing album, I have to admit I found those EPS and the wait to be frustrating. I was also frustrated that they weren’t finding a bigger voice in the landscape, something similar to what I’ve felt for years with Roadside Graves.

But along came Another Other last week. Hell I didn’t know that this album was out until I hopped on Spotify to play me some Kingsley Flood one night while making dinner. And as I sit here in stunned disbelief after last night’s results, it seemed as good a time to review this album. You see, Kingsley Flood play an energizing brand of punk-folk that as the band puts it, “is a exploration of identity and race and class.” Lead singer Naseem Khurmi, an American of Palestinian descent that grew up outside of Boston has a very captivating and unique way of looking at the world.

To The Wolves is a fiery tune that feels on point today fueling the anger towards the wealth and elite that corrupts our country.

I am no supermodel’s son, I open doors, all on my own,
I got no Rockefeller blood, when the dollar is done, then the dollar is done,
And I know there’s a hand above,
Grabbing the gold, leaving none for us,

On My Mind is another fiery tune dealing with our inactivity to deal with issues that could be fixed. This track has a nasty little riff in it.

Yes I heard from the late night plea
And the toll free number at the bottom of the screen
A broken child fending in the wild of a distant land
I could write a check from this couch and yet I can’t reach my stamp
But it’s on my mind

The first track, titled Bridge deals with the disconnect between growing up in an affluent suburb and what is going on in the city so close to you. Like Khurmi, this is something I am confronting as I try to best educate my kids on what’s on the other side. You wish to keep them safe but at what cost.

Papa’s eating peas, saying “how was your day
You went down by the bridge, your teacher said
I’ve always wondered why in that part of town
The green grass suddenly turns to brown

These guys are simply amazing. And as I mentioned above, how they have not blown up is one of life’s great mysteries. This is exactly the album I needed today and I am blaring it loud. I suggest you do the same.

Follow me on Twitter at @WoodyHearYa or @HearYa

Kingsley Flood is here

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Just the other day, Oz and I were chatting, and I surmised that Kingsley Flood’s album Battles gets better and better with every listen. Shortly thereafter we got an email with the first video from the aforementioned awesomeness.

Here is the scoop on the video: Kingsley Flood – who are making their Newport Folk Festival debut this summer – recruited twenty-five 7 year-olds to shoot a video for “Sun Gonna Lemme Shine.” The inspiration came when lead singer Naseem Khuri read the NY Times Magazine cover story about young boys wearing dresses and then had a dream in which an old man pulled a Radio Flyer with a boy wearing a dress in front of an old house. “When we came up with this idea, I was thinking a lot about a young family member of mine whose dress-wearing ‘phase’ was becoming more of a reality. Soon after, I ended up having a dream and imagined the wizard/wagon scene you see in the video,” said Kingsley Flood frontman Naseem Khuri.

i just tried to coach eight six year olds for soccer and that was difficult. How the hell they made it through the day with 25 seven year olds is beyond me? But it works and its a great video that speaks volumes.

We are in deep negotiations with Kingsley Flood to pay a visit to HearYa’s World HQ for a HearYa session. In the meantime, please get this album as it is one of the best of 2013.

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Kingsley Flood – Battles [Album Review]

by oz on February 5, 2013

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It’s not too early to declare an album as my favorite of the year right? Kingsley Flood is it.

I’ve been on a HearYa hiatus for quite some time now due to the demands of the real world job that’s been keeping me on the road, but Kingsley Flood brought me out of my sabbatical. This album has it all and will hit the sweet spot for anyone that follows this site and shares our same taste in music. Each song is carefully crafted and the album alternates between Americana and brash rock n’ roll with a punk underbelly.

The album opens with a dark acoustic track called “Don’t Change My Mind” where lead singer Naseem Khuri’s vocals sneer over acoustic finger-picking with a screeching electric backdrop and ominous interludes of hard hitting piano notes. What grabbed my attention most was the opening line:

The walls of old Jerusalem, built on blood of kings not men
Timeless, in tact
I been singing to a ceiling fan, I been preaching to a pepsi can
Praying my voice won’t crack

You had me at “pepsi can,” Naseem.

The gloom of the opening is wiped away with “Sun’s Gonna Let Me Shine,” which bounces along like the name implies, pivoting the album into a full on rock show in “Pick Your Battles.” But “Waiting on the River to Rise” moistened me from head to toe. The song is exceptional and will go down as one of my favorites of the year. I’ve listened to it countless times, even excluding the twenty repeats required to transcribe the lyrics below.

The song speaks to me. It opens from the perspective of a man who fell on hard times: “We swam along just fine/ and then she broke her back/ and the bank broke mine.” He’s patient in hopes that things get better as he sings in the chorus: “And I’ll build my boat/ So tall and wide/ But I’m still waiting on the river to rise.” Have you met people like that? Those that sit idly by, relying on blind faith or divine intervention to rescue them? At the midway point in the song, there’s contemplative whistling, marking a turning point. Then horns marking a revelation:

Scratch tickets on my shelf
Stains on my knees
Pennies in my well
I got faith in faith
because the other choice
is no choice at all

Now there’s a man in the sky that I done right by
but he ain’t done right by me
Never had to ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done
But you just wait and see…
I will build my boat so tall and wide
and I won’t be waiting on the river to rise.
No I won’t be waiting on the river to rise.

I may be off on the song meaning, but to me, the character stopped trying to pray or wish his way out of a situation and he stops waiting to get rescued. He moves on and takes control of his life rather than waiting for a miracle. Again, just my interpretation. He also could have offed himself I suppose.

Luckily, I stopped debating myself on the song meaning because “Down” incited a dance party in my house with my four year old, two year old and yours truly. I suddenly felt the irresistible urge to dance the swim. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.

Other songs to call attention to are “Sigh a While,” “The Fire Inside” and “This Will Not Be Easy.” Great album from top to bottom, back to front. Each song plays its part in keeping Battles varied and engaging throughout and the songwriting will captivate you in the quieter moments. Dive into some of the tracks mentioned above below. After you sample, feel free to grab the album in the online retail channels. It was released today.

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Boston’s Kingsley Flood are back with their follow up to the excellent Dust Windows. Here’s an excerpt from their PR release to get you excited.

Fresh off a win for Americana Artist of the Year at the 2012 Boston Music Awards, Kingsley Flood announces the release of their second full-length album, Battles, on Feb. 5, 2013. Despite its subject matter, what makes the album essential listening is the music. Battles is an album that demands to be heard from start to finish. The 12 tracks feature the band’s most honed, complex, and meaningful work to date. Produced by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim, David Wax Museum) at Great North Sound Society, an 18th century farmhouse in southern Maine, Battles amplifies the band’s pension for dynamics: rock songs that can fill music halls, quiet songs that sound two feet away. The resulting sound blends Dylan-esque storytelling, Kinks-inspired hooks, and the urgency of the Clash.

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