Giving themselves a Hawaiian name which literally means “the sound”, Kaleo has taken off. With 3 of the 4 members being friends since elementary school in Rajkjavik, their music evolved naturally. The lead singer, Jökull Júlíusson (JJ Julius Son) takes possession from second tenor to falsetto and his strong warbles stand out with their mostly original music. Rubin Pollock, Daniel Ægir Kristjánsson, and Daviδ Antonsson round out the instrumentals. It’s as though they’ve found their niche to shine and share with the world. The blend ties the sound of electric rock riff to what the ears of today’s youth are drawn to, while appealing to those who appreciate the roots of rock. As a viral sensation on YouTube their sound has transcended their continent. With a degree in music and love for the same, here’s a peek into my thoughts.
Way Down We Go is the best song on the track and the most commercial. It’s a bluesy mix, reminiscent of the soul BB King puts into The Thrill is Gone. Toe tapping and body swaying, it’ll stay with you long after your ears have heard the notes. Listen to the live version recorded in the Thríhnúkagigur volcano in Iceland. For anyone who can appreciate the difference certain acoustics can make, it’s evident on the track. It must have been incredible being there in person.
Broken Bones is my second favorite. It’s a mix of rockabilly and an African American spiritual. It brings to mind those on a chain gang or working a field. Catchy and sing-able the end has a refreshing surprise. It builds to a clever round that not many bands will attempt. They nailed it.
Automobile is a country-folksy song done in acoustics. It’s something I could see Johnny Cash digging.
Vor í Vaglaskόgi is a gamble in their native language but it pays off. It’s a haunting version of an old Icelandic love story from the 1960’s, complete with violins. We may not understand the lyrics but the melody will move you, regardless.
For a modest release it’s packed with goodness, but by the 9th or 10th track its one dimensional show becomes weary. For their next album I hope they spread their wings to expand the flavor of their vision by allowing one of the other band-mates to step up to vocals, or collaborate with other rockers.