Album Review: Kid Sam - 'Self-titled'

17 April 2010 | 6:03 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Melbourne duo offer a few thrills on debut album

Modest indie-rock laced with fuzzy, vintage guitars and some unconventional drumming is the musical blueprint for cousins Kishore and Kieran Ryan- better known as the duo behind Kid Sam- and on this, their self-titled debut album, the cousins have collaborated to create an album that has a DIY appeal and stripped back sensibility that shows mixed potential for the band.

As duo from Melbourne, Kid Sam have a rather simple approach to songwriting which involves getting the most out of their guitar (Kieran; also vocals) and drum (Kishore) combo. They play a style of alternative rock akin to duos like The Black Keys and The Mess Hall, where they don’t try to overload the listener with too many individual sounds but rather focus their energy on bringing a single riff or harmony to the fore. The songwriting sounds organic, not too thought out and as though they are just playing the kind of music that comes naturally to them.

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Ambitious 8-minute opener “Mirror Drawings” has a bluesy vibe to it (sounding a little like The Drones) which drifts along on Kieran’s carefully plucked guitar. It’s a big tune that acts as a great way to kick off the album.

Following is “Down to the Cemetery” with its fuzzy guitar grunt, and the harmonica-tinged and folk inspired “The Sunday Bus”, both of which show off Kieran’s gentle vocals.

However, by the middle of the album the cracks begin to show. Songs from “Landslide” onwards are decent for the most part but start to sound a little repetitive with the band’s limited dynamics as a duo wearing thin. While they mix it up with the odd acoustic track, there’s a real formula to their songwriting that may fail to hold every listener’s attention for the duration of the album.

Something also needs to be said for their drummer’s choice of using “cookware” in the recording of this album. It may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but Kishore’s unconventional method of drumming includes using upturned saucepans to get a certain “clang” sound to their rhythm section, which is interesting at first but gets annoying after a while.

Thankfully, highlight “We’re Mostly Made Of Water” is tucked away close to the end of the album and redeems some of the less memorable sections. It’s a catchy little number that demonstrates an interesting exploration into how to craft a memorable pop song with a simple marching rhythm, fuzzy guitar and harmonic vocals.

It’s not the most complex music you will ever hear, but there’s a certain charm in Kid Sam’s humble compositions of guitar and drums. However, while the album does have its impressive moments, there are also those that are somewhat mediocre and leave the overall impact of this release patchy.

1. Mirror Drawings

2. Down To The Cemetery

3. The Sunday Bus

4. Landslide

5. A Black Ant

6. Jodie Makes A Fire

7. Close Your Eyes And It All Goes Black

8. We're Mostly Made Of Water

9. Soft, Grey Rain