Kaleo at Dingwalls
Kaleo are two bands: one is comprised of honey-glazed, chiming melodies and sparse soundscapes from the shores of their native Iceland, the other hints at their relocation to Austin, Texas, and a likeness to filthy ZZ Top-esque blues-rock. A respectable diversity in theory, an uncomfortable discord in practice.
Their recent album A/B perfectly divides these styles down the centre, delivering five songs of the Texan sound then across the Atlantic for the next five. It’s as if they were raised on a diet of Led Zeppelin and Howlin’ Wolf and became distracted by Hozier and The Lumineers. Given this curdling blend, their transcendence of the Icelandic scene into the UK, America and beyond can be explained simply by the fact that they do both very well.
Out of the traps at Dingwalls, they offer up the gritty blues stomper Broken Bones followed by Pour Sugar on Me (an undisguised nod to Def Leppard). The turning point of the album All the Pretty Girls serves the same purpose here, as the fast-flowing river of guitar fuzz meets the calm estuary of modern folk melancholy. Like their contemporaries, they never spurn the opportunity of a harmonised chanted vocal, straight from the Bastille school of indie-pop ornamentation. This obviously goes down well.
They dive back into the rockier No Good and My Gun, and up again for an ethereal rendition of a traditional Icelandic song. Progress isn’t hindered by the unfathomably chiselled good looks of singer Jökull Júlíusson; one wonders how someone like him has ended up in a band and not as a catalogue model. He is perhaps the only singer who can play to a sweaty crowd in a dingy room in Camden, but could also possibly win The X Factor. He howls, whistles and bellows his way through the set, and even does a surprisingly good Nancy Sinatra in a cover of the Cher classic Bang Bang.
As talented as they are, there is something ungraspable about them: they are difficult to pin down, not because they have a vast array of styles, but because they have just two very clear yet disparate ones. However, they are still in the formative epoch of their career and, given their natural ability and good looks, if they do manage to weave a common thread through their music they could make big waves in the music industry (or failing that, The X Factor).
Photos: Minghui Reece
For further information about Kaleo and future events visit here.
Watch the video for No Good here: