Somewhere at the intersection of the Black Keys, Outkast, Kings of Leon and Curtis Mayfield lies the Cleveland band “SomeKindaWonderful” (check out our SXSW interview here!) and their self-titled release out today via Downtown Records/White Clover Records. Good god, this stuff is catchy. Every song sounds like it could be in an Apple ad or movie trailer. In fact, as I listened to the album, I pretty much pictured everything from whiskey advertisements to kissing-in-the-rain moments from all my favorite chick flicks (not that I have that many).
The album kicks off at a wild pace with “Cornbread”, raspy and soulful with plenty of heavy drums from Ben Schigel and bluesy guitar riffs from Matt Gibson (fitting name, huh?). This is the kind of song you would expect to hear as a woman in stilettos walks slow-motion away from a rather menacing explosion, AK-47 in hand, completely unaffected by the chaos behind her. “It’s a conscious revolution” wails front man Jordy Towers, who moved to Cleveland from LA to get away from the big labels and conformity he felt was rampant in the big city. He certainly finds himself on this album, adventurously exploring with his lyrics while remaining very relatable.
Nowadays, bands rarely fit into a particular genre. But SomeKindaWonderful manages to fit into all of them, mixing pop, soul, rock and roll, funk, electronic, R&B, and western together effortlessly. “Police” is a perfect example of this, with John Legend-esque vocals peppered with gospel backing vocals and electronic beats reminiscent of Disclosure. Somehow these sounds blend together seamlessly, in an incredibly dynamic way.
“Hard For Days” means exactly what you don’t think there’s any way it could actually mean. It is a pop-y but risqué tune dedicated to “that first wave of lust when you meet a new mate” in the words of the band themselves…literally about being hard for days. Not gonna lie, it took me aback, with its eyebrow-raising lyrics, but once you jump in, the water’s nice. Kind of makes you want to roll around in bed with someone.
“Honeymoon” makes a quick u-turn, veering off in the opposite direction, lamenting about that inevitable moment when you realize the honeymoon phase is over, and love sucks. “I ain’t got time for a broken heart” sings Towers, and I don’t believe anyone is fighting him on that one. This struggle between love, infatuation, heartbreak and starting over is a theme dealt with in “Caveman”, “Amaretto”, and “Reverse.”
“Reverse,” the single that has been climbing charts, tells a story of a f*cked up relationship and a lover with a wandering eye. It’s like the soundtrack to that moment in the movie when the two lead characters realize that they will never work, but no matter the pain and suffering they’ve caused each other, they feel they belong together…but with a far more realistic feel to it and pretty epic instrumentals.
“Devilish Man” is my absolute favorite track off this record. Opening with a John Wayne quote, the track mixes western music with a heavy dose of soul, telling the story of an lyin’, cheatin’, drinkin’ scumbag that (SPOILER ALERT) ends up being an autobiographical tale about the narrator himself.
Exultant and uplifting tunes like “Burn” and “Shine On Me” round out a record that talks a lot about life and love, with lyrics that you instantly know the words to and choruses that build like Imagine Dragons’ do, with a tad bit more soul. It is an incredible album, really. Keep them on your radar, because SomeKindaWonderful is going to be big really soon.