Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Artist Review: Children of Kids


Seattle's Children of Kids are a trio composed of Madeline Franks, Madison Levine, and Richie Nelson, and in some ways they're more a project than a band. That's really the only way to describe them, because the 2011 migration of Franks and Levine from Chicago to join Nelson in Seattle led to more than just the continuation of their band, it also resulted in the creation of CTPAK Records. Since the label's formation, the three (with the help of others) have drawn on their grassroots approach to musicianship to create a collaborative label that offers production, engineering, mixing and mastering to a growing group of artists. However, if the online excitement about CTPAK showcases and releases has left you wondering whether the band that began it all deserves your attention, then I want to assure you that is does. 

Source: Katarina Countiss via Katablog, Thanks, Katarina!

To date they have only released one full-length album and two EPs, but in that time the group has morphed from a duo of just Levine and Franks on 2010’s IIIΔIII, into a quartet with the addition of Callum Plews and Richie Nelson for 2011’s Prism, and finally into their current Seattle manifestation as a trio. Their last EP, titled “Pony Tales”, was released in July of 2012 and it features some of their most beautiful work yet.

Despite these changes, every incarnation of Children of Kids has produced interesting results as they dabbled to varying degrees with formulas utilizing dream-folk, post-twee, and experimental electronica. The dreamy acoustic guitar work, and soaring, reverb-laden vocals on IIIΔIII standouts like “Bloodstar” remind me of the early work of Liz Harris’ Grouper project, but with a distinct folk flavor that makes it all their own.

Prisms seems like the true starting point for their current formation. It retains the measured, but never lazy pace established on the previous release, but also cultivates an underlying feeling of playful wonder through its upbeat tempo. To be sure, the duo’s presence is retained, but new features like piano, bubbling electronics, noise, and even house-inspired beats on some tracks make for soulful additions.   

The Pony Tales EP is an extension of everything that they began on Prisms, but it’s clear that the individual members have become more confident—this is particularly apparent in the vocals and electronic work.

The group has been playing pretty regularly around the Seattle area for some time now, and while they don’t have any new shows listed at present, stay tuned for new dates in the Upcoming Shows section. All of their work is available on bandcamp and a new record, tentatively titled The Purpose, is slated to be out soon. 

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