Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Kitchen Sinks-Commodity

October 1, 2006

kitchensinksBand Name: The Kitchen Sinks

Album Name: Commodity[/u]

Best element: Flashes of brilliance
Genre: Folk/pop

Website: www.myspace.com/thekitchensinks

Label name: Amplified Prose Records
Band e-mail: www.myspace.com/thekitchensinks

I should’ve expected it. With an “anything goes” name like The Kitchen Sinks, I should’ve expected a slightly confused, multiple personality bonanza of a disc. But I set out with hopes of a cohesive album, which were dashed in lieu of better things.

The Sinks play a convincing brand of folk/pop that hops back and forth between plodding melancholy (“Melancholy”, “Lullaby”), upbeat collectivism (“Life is No Commodity”, “Battle Hymn of the Resistance”), and offbeat quirkiness (“Pants”, “Polkadotted Butterflies”). Part of this is due to the three distinct songwriters that are credited here: Tim Avery, Liana Gabel, and Mike Brown. Each has their own profile, and the collective highs of each are what save this album from potential unwieldiness.

Avery is the pop songwriter of the bunch- gifted melodies and quick, swaying strum patterns anchor his songwriting. He writes the title track, which is undoubtedly the best track on the album. The ridiculously strong group melodies had me playing this track three or four times as much as an other track. Avery’s voice is high and a tad bit whiny, but it’s easily adapted to, as after a few listens I completely forgot my complaints with his tone.

The most powerful songwriter of the bunch is Gabel, whose emotive sweeping tracks serve as a backdrop for the best vocals of the trio. The most affecting song here is the morose but charged “Lullaby”, while her sarcastic side comes out in the forceful, passionate “Pants”. Yes, it’s actually about pants; but from the anguish that is released from her remarkable alto vocals, you wouldn’t guess.

Mike Brown writes most on the album, writing five of the 12 songs. Unfortunately, his vocals are least palatable of the three, with a gangly warble that offsets the understated textures that his relatively laidback songwriting produces. While songs such as “Falling Into You” and “If I Fall” are instrumentally well written, I’d prefer to hear Gabel’s remarkable pipes over the acoustic guitar and violin instrumentation that Brown often calls for.

This band is more of a songwriter’s collective than a true band- if the songs were arranged differently, we’d actually have three EPs on one disc. I thoroughly enjoy parts of each songwriter’s material, but I’d like to see them combine their strengths and create something better than the individual strengths and weaknesses of each songwriter. But I can safely say it’s a good start.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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