Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Kelpie -- Hey Friends, It's Kelpie
Birthday Party Records; 2005

When I hear Kelpie, the mental image I get is one of adults having way more fun a their kid brothers' birthday party than the kids: Mashing the buttons in the arcade, stuffing facefuls of cake at a time, and begging Mom for more quarters. This Lawrence, Kansas four-piece (at least at the time of recording) exude that much fun through their music. It's a bustling combination of borrowed Beach Boys harmonies and loose, indie rocker instrumentation (bass, drums, guitar, piano) and near math-rock song structures. Conducted by the band's more than capable drummer, the fluctating tempos and time signatures feel fluid -- never taking away from momentum.

The vocals are equally playful -- clean and well-blended -- fitting nicely in the expanding and contracting structures. It can be difficult at times to follow the lyrics (the booklet, written in some strange phoenetic gibberish, isn't of much help). In fact, without reading the liner notes I was completely unaware of the many musical shout outs to the G.o.d. Hey Friends contained. That said, the group's religious capacity never becomes obtrusive.

"Fruitful" is a cheeky indie pop tune with concise, yet expanded instrumental section; "Rail" and "Dubai" follow suit. Some songs are mere slivers, cleverly getting in and out before they have a chance to wander into boring territory. (However, the first and last tunes, both smacking of Beach Boys worship with echo-tastic production, might have been better left off the record.) More Of Montreal and Faraquet than E.L.O and King Crimson, Kelpie have stumbled on to an incredibly catchy sound few have managed so joyfully. I know the band had a line-up shake up within the last year, and now the pianist has been replaced by a second guitarist. At a recent live show the band's sound took a turn for the blooze, which was not an unwelcomed shift. Kelpie deserves the adoration that bands with half their talent currently enjoy (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I'm looking at you). With a new record being put to "tape" this summer, the group's time may be nigh. That aside, Hey Friends, It's Kelpie is a solid effort, and a good starting place for soon-to-be fans of the group.

LISTEN: Kelpie "Fruitful" and "Rail"

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