Album Review: Kopecky Family Band’s Kids Raising Kids

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How many thousand musicians sit around with their musician friends and discuss, dream about and debate the music they wish they could make? In the case of The Kopecky Family Band, they did just that and then took all of their energy and began to create what they were hearing in their heads by taking it into the the studio and out on the road. The dreams began in 2007 and have now culminated in their latest release Kids Raising Kids.

Upon listening, it may surprise some that this music does not come out of some musical collective out of Brooklyn or the Pacific Northwest. Instead, the music comes from Music City itself —Nashville, TN. But there is not one sliver of country or Americana on this release, just straight down the line alternative music. (Not that Nashville is limited to just mainstream country these days, with many native acts including Heavy Cream, Paramore and Kings of Leon–as well as transplants Jack White and The Black Keys–putting out a variety of pop, rock and indie sounds.)

On Kids Raising Kids, which dropped October 23rd, the six members of KFB have created intelligent, thoughtful music in the somewhat similar style of the wildly overplayed act Group Love. However, it is eminently more listenable and provides a depth of musical and lyrical explorations that kept this listener’s headphones glued on to hear what is coming next– something a truly good album should do. The record boasts a range of styles, from reverb-laden dream pop to a somewhat “Spectorish” 60s vibe to true alternative rock.

Kids Raising Kids is notable for many reasons, especially its wonderfully ethereal lead and background vocals and consistently creative instrumentation, the latter showcasing their precocious musical maturity and sense of style. The large group sound of male/female unison singing may be what conjures comparisons to Grouplove, but their beautifully wispy female vocals bring to mind what The xx might sound like with added complexity and more lush instrumental textures.

Their live string and brass sounds wonderfully punctuate the beginnings and endings of several songs on the record, ultimately bringing a unique quality to the tunes on which they are featured. The production values of KFB’s latest effort are spectacular, but never to the point of being overly slick or soundingcorporatist. Each instrument has its proper place in the mix, allowing things like the prominent, somewhat fuzzy and driving bass lines to have particular emphasis. There are certainly some low-fi, crunchy sounds found in many of today’s DIY acts, but Kids Raising Kids sounds carefully, deftly and lovingly handled, allowing for the true artistic intention of the endeavor to shine.

KFB has been hard at work over the last year or so hitting the road and playing some of the country’s major festivals, including multiple sets at Bonnaroo, SXSW, New York’s CMJ festival (where NPR Music took big notice) and most recently the Austin City Limits Music Festival. They have also co-headlined a tour with The (Oh SO hot) Lumineers and supported ever popular acts Gomez and Devothcka. Considering that KFB has only been at it for just a few years, this is quite a bit to have achieved.

While certainly one can hear flavors of the aforementioned Grouplove, The xx, DeVotchKa and even massive alternative acts like Arcade Fire, Kids Raising Kids never sounds derivative because the band takes all of these unique flavors and spins them together like a multi-flavored DQ Blizzard— all of the individual elements are tasty on their own but make for wonderfully sweet whole. Each track manages to have its own depth, style and sound, but rather than sounding disparate Kids Raising Kids comes off as a thoughtful and heartfelt cohesive work.

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Clem emerged from the underbelly of NashVegas where he began his love of ALL things musical. College found him in the commercial music program at the University of Miami where he actually learned what the hell he was doing. New York was next and whether he “made it there” is still up for debate. From playing in the honky-tonks of Nashville and the dance clubs of Miami to Broadway and theatrical stages around the country, to Carnegie Hall (while practicing one day somebody told him how to get there) and the recording studios of New York and L.A., Clem’s variety of musical experience has transcended the boundaries of genre. He owns a production company, lectures on music in colleges across the country and is on the visiting faculty of Elon Univ. He has a port-o-johns named after him at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.