iTunes lists the Genre of this album as "Unclassifiable". Well, I can definitely see where Mr. Tunes is coming from. I once heard TV On The Radio described as "so different from anything else you've ever heard" or even "so strange it must be brilliant". I think those labels work better for Kyp Malone's solo effort "Rain Machine". Unclassifiable? I'm not sure. I think "Alternative-Folk-Funk-Rock" might work...but since we stick with the limited list of genres round these parts, let's just say "Rock".
Kyp Malone is perhaps better known as part of TV On the Radio (who put out a freaking awesome record last year) and while that band takes a one-year hiatus, Mr. Malone has blessed us with his solo effort in "Rain Machine". Kyp's got himself an extremely distinct voice. It creeks and it cracks and moans and above all it emotes. Every line is sung as if the man is singing for salvation. There are many moments on the album where I can't help but imagine the man with the beehive-like-beard singing his heart out a train station or just on the street (peep the opening to "Love Won't Save You"). In my head, he's got a huge crowd of people mezmorized by him and his performance and he's got everyone in the crowd thinking, "Jeez, he's pretty different...but really, really good". Thankfully for us, the man already has a record deal and we can just buy the album and enjoy his honest, heartfelt - and at times a bit crazy - musical performances.
Many of the songs consist mostly of Kyp and his guitar accompanied by the occasional kitchen percussion (like the banging pots and pans and spoons that make up the album's intro). And you know what? That's the strength of this album. That's the core that makes things so convincing. It became obvious to me on the excellent "Love Won't Save You". So though a guy singing while playing the guitar might bring about thoughts of the dreaded "Singer/Songwriter" I can assure you that his style brings so much of "The Funk" that you most definitely will never once think of a CK-model looking fellow crooning about beauty.
(...by the way, poor Singer-Songwriters, eh? Kind of a dirty word but there's more than a few that I like...For example, I think a Kyp Malone/Regina Spektor collabo would be sort of interesting...)
The first song on the album - "Give Blood" - seems like a straight-up crazy TV On The Radio song (I especially love the part where it turns into Stevie Wonder's "Part Time Lover"). Although "Give Blood" has the tempo to match the intensity of Kyp's crazy singing while the rest of the album does not, that general performance intensity never lets up and vocally the songs start small build towards huge crashing crecendos.
At times the lyrics may seem a bit strange. Take the following from "New Last Name":
It's a glass
With some crow
With some rocks
With some crow
And some rocks and some country verb
It's a high-hat and a click and a crush of the contact and you know you're worth just mud
...so, weird, right?. But the delivery is strangely melodic and hypnotizing. There's some real intensity that is sold by those cracks in the man's voice that does not let up.
Standouts for me are "Give Blood", "Smiling Black Faces", and "Desparate Bitch". But for me "Love Won't Save You" is the song to buy the album for. For me, it represents the album and I think that if you like that one song, you'll love the rest of them.
How would I boil this all down? Well, it's like the more introspective side of TV On The Radio. If you don't mind a slower paced TV On The Radio record and you dig Kyp's performance methods, you are going to find alot to love here. This isn't straight up Rock. It isn't easily classified into any particular genre but it is a fine example of good music that is performed honestly and with spirit that reaches out to you from beyond your speakers. Nice work, Kyp.
4.300 out of 5
|1. Intro (01:02)|
|2. Give Blood (03:25)||5|
|3. New Last Name (03:50)||4|
|4. Smiling Black Faces (06:21)||5|
|5. Driftwood Heart (05:00)||3|
|6. Hold You Holy (05:11)||5|
|7. Desperate Bitch (08:45)||5|
|8. Love Won't Save You (07:56)||5|
|9. Free Ride (03:59)||4|
|10. Leave the Lights On (04:22)||4|
|11. Winter Song (10:57)||3|