I don’t often review EPs unless I have a specific reason to do so. For this EP review, there are two reasons. First, the band is from my hometown, so I think they deserve some attention. Second, Diamond Kites’ new EP “Working Life” is a fantastic release that unveils some real potential for this band. The EP released on May 22nd.
As I mentioned, Diamond Kites are from my hometown of Akron, OH, USA. Northeastern Ohio is well-known for breeding some fantastic musicians, such as Maynard Keenan, and many bands, such as The Black Keys and Mushroomhead. We even have the odd ones, like Marilyn Manson. One thing I’ve always noted about music from this area is the raw nature of the lyrics. This part of the state, especially the Akron/Canton area, is what many call a part of the “rust belt”, cities that were once booming with manufacturing life, but are no longer. Akron itself is “Rubber City”, and we still do house the Goodyear and Firestone headquarters. Music being made in this environment is usually incredibly personal, emotional, and unwilling to compromise on vision or content.
The band consists of Jeff Klemm (of prog rock band Maid Myriad) on vocals, Mario Tonathy (also of Maid Myriad) on bass, and Mike Karl on drums. The band is working with nationally renowned producer/engineer Nathan Doutt (ex-Tweaktronic). The band was previously called Jeff Klemm & the Letters, and the band has incorporated that moniker’s music as their own.
Diamond Kites is a project that has so much going for it. They play a pop rock that incorporates various influences. I hear 80s new wave, indie rock, electronic/synthwave, and even just modern radio rock. No, they do not describe themselves as progressive, but that doesn’t mean their music is dull. On the contrary, their music offers bright and stabbing rhythms, electronic auras, addictive choruses, and kingly melodies. Their music is consistently ambitious and inventive.
The new EP has three songs on it, but I think of it as only the start of great things to come. The EP begins with “Working Life”, the title track. For some reason, I almost expected it to sound like Rush’s “Working Man”, but it quite different. It starts with bright rhythms that lead into a gigantic chorus. Jeff really pushes his impressive limits here with a wall of vocals that will give you goosebumps. This track gives us a good glimpse of the excellent guitar work, thundering drums, and riveting bass that we can expect, too.
The second track is called “Fast Forward”. I think this is my favorite. It has an 80s New Wave vibe in some of its groove, but it driven by an electronic rhythm. The chorus is perfectly off kilter, and only gets more urgent as the song progresses. The final track is called “Without You”. It honestly reminds me of Imagine Dragons just a bit, especially with the group vocals, but it ends up winding through more musical ideas than you might think.
Diamond Kites has an excellent EP on their hands, and even though it only runs just over 10 minutes in length, I find there is plenty to absorb. Additionally, I find myself wanting to start it all over again once it finishes. It’s happier music than you normally find in this NE Ohio area, but I think that reflects the flourishing of life and art that especially Akron has seen in the last few years, not to mention all the new breweries opening all over the place (we like beer). The music feels just as personal as I expected, but possibly more hopeful, though still unwilling to gloss over the facts of daily life. I’m excited to see where this band goes from here.
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