Knock Knock has been around for about 8 years but just released their second full length album. Some things are worth waiting for! This is a band that floats comfortably between more up-tempo straight ahead rock numbers, more melodic pop songs, and slower acoustic based songs. They have so many strengths that it's difficult to isolate what makes them so great. One of the biggest draws for me is the vocal harmonies of Allen Maxwell (vocals/bass) and Heather Conway (guitar/vocals) who honestly sound like they were put on this earth to sing together. The songwriting is so strong - very rich lyrical imagery paired with music that somehow manages to enhance the lyrics - a testament to the depths of their musical knowledge. Nicola Miller never overplays on these songs, and her understated drumming is yet another strength of this band. Mike Cinciripino's lead guitar playing offers as many hooks as the vocals but is not flashy or overstated. I think that when it comes down to it, Knock Knock's biggest strength is just that - they all play for the song. No one shows off, no one needs to prove how awesome they are on their instrument, yet they prove it again and again on the strength of the songs.
Girls On The Run is 12 songs that show that this band know what they're doing. The album opens with a straight up rock number but is followed by a straight up pop number. Brilliant! The title track comes in after that and offers up a glimpse at Allen's talent for painting a very vivid picture. He has an understanding of how to put words together that is almost unusual in music today. Songwriting for a lot of bands is less about telling a story and more about being filled with angst. Don't get me wrong, I love depressing lyrics, but somewhere along the way the art of telling a story got lost. It's nice that songwriters like Jeff Tweedy and Stephin Merritt place painting that picture up front, and I think that Allen should be included amongst them.
Girls On The Run
From there the album twists and turns and on first listen it's hard to know what to expect next! We've got a slightly slower song followed by a more rocking song Heather takes lead vocals on. As on the first album where she also took lead on a couple of songs it is one of my favorites. She is just as able to paint that picture as Allen is though lyrically they don't tread similar territory. The next song reminds me of Big Star or Cheap Trick. The next song is the strongest of the album. It is a song for the ages, an instant classic, and one of the most moving I've heard in a long time. Opening with acoustic guitar and Allen's vocals and building from there - Heather's voice, piano, simple hits on the hi-hats, electric guitar..... you get the idea. The cathartic middle part snaking back into the beginning part. A little outro. 3 minutes and 37 seconds of perfection. I will be surprised if there is a better song this year. If you download nothing else, download this song.
I Was Born
It was difficult to pick just 2 songs from this record to post. When every song is as strong as the other it's almost irrelevant. The song after I Was Born was written about here previously under the entry titled Chicken. The song following that is probably my second favorite from the record, a song called Bakersfield By The Sea which Mike sings with Allen. Sometimes bands lose focus when there are 3 people who can sing in a band. Knock Knock use Heather and Mike's vocals wisely - Allen is an expressive vocalist and you don't get tired of his voice but by offering up Heather's voice in the mix it enhances the songs, when she takes lead it's a nice change, and when you hear Mike singing towards the end of the album it's another slight difference that only adds to the enjoyment of the record. No ear fatigue here. The next 2 songs are winding us down with their slower meandering pace. The last song picks up the tempo again and leaves you with an ear worm. How a record should end!
As mentioned before, this album is available for $8 POSTAGE PAID from Wilde Records and you can learn more about the band by visiting Knock Knock on myspace where there is a pretty in depth bio up.