Recommended: Collaborations by the Kintners

The first line says it all: “I’m spinning in squares, not circles.”

Translation: We’re doing something new with the old, familiar forms.

Even before that telling first line, the sound of scratchy vinyl and a cinematic blend of brass and strings conveys a similar message: A spinning record translated to the ones and zeros of the digital realm, a circle transmogrified into a seemingly infinite string of binary squares. Is it past, or is it future?

The album, by the way, is called Collaborations, and it’s quite excellent. Front and center are the complementary vocals of Kelly and Keri Kintner. Kelly has a rough-hewn, soulful, earthy voice reminiscent of the late, great Rick Danko of The Band (and a bit of Kenny Rogers as well), while Keri sings in a voice that calls to mind Linda Ronstadt. In short, if you like 70s country rock, you’ll love this album.

Yet even as a country-rock vibe provides the sonic foundation of this wonderful album, the Kintners, with the help, as the title suggests, of some extremely talented collaborators, are also eager to branch out into other musical styles. The horns and strings on the aforementioned opening track, “Keep Me Around,” for example, call to mind indie-rock darlings Belle and Sebastian, while the soaring, searing bluesy guitar of “Keep Me Around” offers a visceral echo of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. And be sure to give some special attention to the jazzy piano in “Two Weeks” featuring Charu Suri.

As for lyrics, the Kintners deliver vivid, heartfelt stories of real people living real lives. Often lonely but never hopeless, they populate the small, private spaces of our day-to-day lives: the front seat of the car, the hotel bar, the back roads we all travel.

The truly amazing feat of this album is that it conveys a sense of intimacy despite the fact that (I imagine, anyway) its contributors, with the exception of Kelly and Keri, were rarely, if ever, in the same room together. Sure, it’s common for musicians these days to shoot files halfway around the world to each other, but something – the magic of musicians playing off each other in real time, let’s say – usually gets lost in the process. It’s like trying to capture the same bolt of lightning in two separate bottles, but it’s a feat the Kintners manage to pull off with warmth and grace.

Review by Marc Schuster

What I’m Listening To…

Quick post on what I’m listening to at the moment!

We Are Okay (Triumph Version) A great remix of an incredibly uplifting song by Brian Lambert. There’s a vulnerable, confessional quality to the lyrics that gives some real weight to the declaration in the title.

The Big Question A soothing, meditative instrumental track by Timothy Simmons. I feel like we all have a lot of big questions lately.

Opposable Thumbs This quirky track by Megazillion has a nice low-key groove. Lyrically, I’m reminded of Jonathan Coulton. Musically, I’m hearing a bit of a Velvet Underground vibe. Look for my interview with Megazillion later this week!

Call It a Kindness A bit of shameless self-promotion here. I think of this one as a friendly breakup letter from God to humanity.

What I’m Listening to at the Moment

If all goes according to plan — which is always an iffy proposition when it comes to travel these days — I’m supposed to visit Scotland in June. So I’ve just started checking out a couple of indie Scottish musicians on the extremely remote chance that our schedules might coincide and I’ll get to check one of them out when I’m there. Not at all likely, but one can always dream!

“Propaganda Machine” by Voldo (feat. Orange G)

I love the retro vibe on this one. Slightly reminiscent of music by fellow Scot, Edwyn Collins, this one would feel right at home on the soundtrack to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. Some nice harmonica work by Orange G, too!

“Island Spinning Song” by Evelyn Laurie

Love the groove on this one! Great interplay between the trumpet and piano as well. Evelyn Laurie has an incredibly charming voice — jazz with a Scottish twist. Thanks to Kelly Kintner for turning me on to this one! Check out Evelyn Laurie’s full catalog on Songwhip!

“We Are OK” by Brian Lambert

Okay, not quite Scottish, but I think I’ve heard Denton referred to as “the Scotland of Texas”? Maybe? In any case, “We Are OK” by Brian Lambert is an uplifting track with great energy. And my recent comments about preferring EPs over albums notwithstanding, the full We Are OK album is definitely worth a listen!