Chemikal Underground is delighted to announce the release of a brand-new EP of Louisville band King’s Daughters & Sons on 12th May 2023 – the band’s first new release in over a decade.
King’s Daughters & Sons unearthed the raw recordings of these 3 songs 10 years after the release of their debut album “If Then Not When”. Though the band was developing these songs contemporaneously to their initial release, “The Next First Thing” sounds like it might have led to a new, thrilling phase for the group. Here was an evolution that drew on the group’s shared history and pointed to a future which remains unwritten. Rescued from the cellar of time and freshly mastered by engineer Kevin Ratterman these songs feel alive, bristling with intention and promise.
Uncurling gracefully across the Louisville skyline, King’s Daughters & Sons’ narratives are soaked in quiet revelation and shadow. Shining briefly but darkly in the Kentucky underground rock scene that birthed Rachel’s, Shipping News and The For Carnation (all 3 bands share members with King’s Daughters & Sons), these are erudite, evocative depictions of place and the people who suffer,love and live in it.
Recorded in 2012 following rehearsals for their shows to showcase the band’s debut “If Then Not When”, “The Next First Thing” completes the picture of one of the great, unsung groups of the era.Naturally evolving into a thrilling, noir rock ensemble, here the group eschew the Southern gothic folk influence of their debut for a more physical, drawn-out sound simultaneously muscular and fragile. Rachel Grimes’ piano yearns outward but is pinned down by Kyle Crabtree’s deep, heavy drums on opener “Bondurant”. Immediately the desolation and ragged beauty of Ditch-trilogy Neil Young comes to mind, the band lurch from chord to doomed chord, one guitar swelling while the other laps at the dark shore with chopped up riffs. It’s a sound instantly recognisable for anyone familiar with the band’s history and city, but sewn through each track is an immediacy and cutting vibrancy in how they play the changes. The band wait until the last possible moment before hitting the beat, each snare hit and piano chord hitting right in the chest over Joe Manning’s plaintive vocal.
The band carve up the space in front of the listener, the floorboards of the room creak and groan under the weight of Todd Cook’s bass thuds, Manning’s centrepiece singing is dressed at the edges by Grimes’ sweet harmonies. Lyricist and singer Joe Manning writes of the inspiration behind the song:
“Bondurant” tracks a simple question to its natural conclusion: What would happen if the fellowwho works at the Kentucky Motor Speedway—the fellow who’s labored for years paving andrepaving the racetrack in the thick Kentucky summer hung with the heavy scent of Magnolia and asphalt, the fellow who spends his weekends under the hood of the track’s pace car dreaming of himself a race car driver instead of a nameless laborer—what would happen if that fellow’s dreams became, instead, a plan of action? Less simple, but perhaps more universal, is a further consideration: who’s recognition do we require for validation? What would happen if we simply engineered the circumstances of our success? In short, what if we just decided to steal the fucking show?
Shadows glide across the paranoid, noirish “Buyer’s Remorse”. Manning’s vocal scans like a Leonard Cohen tale, the band smoking in the corner, bringing it down with the beautiful, loose playing of agroup of musicians who know each other’s styles instinctively. The music feels alive, dynamic, creeping in the dark, masked in night, before surrounding the narrator with slicing, criss-crossing guitars. Here the group play with the subdued restraint of their parent groups, recalling Shipping News specifically, using the style as a ruse before bursting open into a shuddering rock crescendo.
On closer “Candyland”, those heavy drums creep back in from earlier, sounding mean and final, like full stops in Manning’s singing. The result feels like a Bill Callahan song pulled apart by Neil Young’s On The Beach group, thrilling in its gloomy vitality, each instrument played with generosity to each other, locked in sympathy. Grimes’ and Michael Heineman’s close harmonies with Manning remind us of the group’s earlier recordings, but here the band are massive, their narratives widescreen, cinematic, open, like Steinbeck novels set in turn of the century Kentucky. On “Candyland” as on the rest of the recordings the lyrics are evocative yet elusive: “It rings through
the valley, into the hills, in forests petrified where all God’s creatures stand stock still when the hammer strikes…” It works so effortlessly with the music, which remains open and impressionistic, never resolving and always probing into new gloomy crevices. The EP ends on a cliff-hanger, the chord refusing to resolve to the dominant, like an American Novel with the last page cruelly ripped out, leaving the story open…
Kyle Crabtree – drums
Todd Cook – bass
Rachel Grimes – piano, voice
Joe Manning – guitar, voice
Michael Heineman – guitar, voice
All songs by Cook/Crabtree/Grimes/Heineman/Manning – Mossgrove Music (BMI)
Lyrics by Joe Manning
Recorded to tape in Louisville, Kentucky by Kevin Ratterman at The Parsonage, February 17th – 20th, 2012
Mixed by King’s Daughters & Sons and Chris Greenwell in Louisville, Kentucky at Downtown Recording, September 2019
Mastered by Kevin Ratterman in 2023
Cover art by Teri Dryden
Video for “Bondurant” created by Coen Bouman / Keyframes
Grateful thanks to our dear friends and families, and to Kevin Ratterman, Chris Greenwell, Teri Dryden, Coen Bouman, and all at Chemikal Underground for your generous patience and support.
Praise for “If Then Not When”
Spectral murder ballads, from Kentucky
Bringing together alumni from bands including Shipping News, Rachel’s and The For Carnation, King’s Daughters & Sons make a music we have come to recognise as very Louisville: atmospheric, complex post-rock music, trudging as though weighed down by some heavy emotional burden. If Then Not When, though, crafts something of stark, sinister beauty. The intertwined vocals of Rachel Grimes, Joe Manning and Michael Heineman recall something of Low’s sombre chorus, but gothic folk tales like “Open Sky” walk a tangled path, starting hushed but building towards blazing, dramatic denouments. (Louis Pattison)
Glorious pastoral folk-rock debut from alt-rock super-group on Chemikal Underground
Not many alt-rock super-groups would simultaneously align themselves with William Faulkner and Led Zeppelin, but then Louisville, Kentucky’s King’s Daughters & Sons are no ordinary band. Formed by members of post-rock dreamboats The For Carnation, post-hardcore troupe The Shipping News and minimalist chamber-rock ensemble Rachel’s (among others), KD&S evoke their variegated origins while making something resolutely other – from the pastoral, harmonic folk-rock of ‘Arc of the Absentees’, through the shimmering piano riffs of acoustic hymn ‘The Anniversary’ to the elemental, instrumental splendour of ‘A Storm Kept Them Away’.
The vintage Tom Petty swagger of ‘Dead Letter Office’ and the lambent guitar tapestries of ‘Sleeping Colony’ further conspire to ensure that If Then Not When is a glorious debut. (Nicola Meighan)
THE LIST (4/5)
At last, we move slowly away from the past. We savour its royalties and seek its information. We wonder for the lessons it will give.
Much could be said of the lineage of King’s Daughters & Sons, and where each member comes from is well-known: Joe Manning a troubadour with a gruff throat and a poet’s pen; Michael Heineman a singer and guitar player whose edge is soft and inviting; Rachel Grimes with a piano is tasteful and serene; Kyle Crabtree a drummer whose angles and flourish never diminish his raw power; and Todd Cook, whose warm, understated bass pays rounds to every note. Their roots have pushed deep into the soil of Louisville’s music — Rachel’s, Shipping News, Dead Child, Grand Prize, to start — and that understandably begs mention. But that is not what this is about.
The music of King’s Daughters & Sons is dense, thickly layered and emotional. It can be calculated and stark, overt and loud. The band is by no means redefining music made by guitars; rather, it is offering a new talking point to the discussion. These songs live somewhere between post-rock tinkling and road music. Manning’s twangy growl blends with Heineman’s smooth tenor and Grimes’ alto to construct sublime, creative harmonies, while the oft-fingerpicked guitars tangle atop a march of drums and bass. It is a grand and dramatic soundtrack with well-placed pauses and explosions that demand patience and grace among its players, and attentiveness of its listeners.
Manning is the storyteller, with a Woody Guthrie delivery, rushing only parts of the narrative that need the bump. The seemingly incongruent mashing of traditional lyric-driven country music and the post-rock sound for which Louisville is known is magical, but it’s not all tales of the King and his daughters and his sons. Other tunes are more theoretical, where Heineman and Grimes draw out single words, wringing from them last trickles of meaning. They wonder how we are where we are and comfort us to confront what we might find there.
That is, if we’re inclined to look.
Stephen George, January 13, 2008
The ghost stories, murder ballads, and grimoires on the new full length album
“If Then Not When” by Louisville, KY’s King’s Daughters & Sons are haunting, spare and at times explosively un settling; part William Faulkner, part Led Zeppelin. Informed by, but not beholden to the history of its members (Shipping News, Rachel’s, The For Carnation, Shannon Wright), their songs are singular, thoughtful and best heard on very large speakers.
The recording was made direct to 2 inch tape in 2008 and 2009 at The Funeral Home by Kevin Ratterman, engineer for California Guitar Trio, My Morning Jacket and Wax Fang. Mastering by Bob Weston, Chicago Mastering Service.
Kyle Crabtree – drums; Todd Cook – bass;
Rachel Grimes – piano, voice; Joe Manning – guitar, voice;
Michael Heineman – guitar, voice
Upcoming Live Shows
No shows booked at the moment.