Aural Fixation: Simple Kid

Listening to as much music as I do, it can take a while before something truly jumps out.  When I review albums here, I do my best to judge them solely on their own merits, but I always find myself holding back from declaring that an album, no matter how much I enjoy it, just isn’t that explosive in the long run.  Just the same, there are always albums and artists that, when I’m bogged down with unimpressive new music, I can always turn to for a refreshing dose of instantly satisfying music.  Most of those standby artists are classic ones, but one of the more recently operating of those ranks is a young man named Ciaran McFeely, but you can call him Simple Kid.

McFeely originally played in a band called The Young Offenders, whose short-lived career nonetheless got McFeely immersed in the world of music.  As Simple Kid, McFeely performs, records and produces his music on his own.  His two albums (appropriately, 1 and 2) wrangle a ton of influences, from acoustic lo-fi folk (“Old Domestic Cat”) to statistical power pop (“The Average Man”) to searing guitar rock (“Mommy N Daddy”).  McFeely’s use of banjos and samples has garnered comparisons to Beck, but there’s something that makes Simple Kid a little more out there than the freak-pop icon.  Though his albums are packed with ideas and influences, Simple Kid’s songs are never overreaching or scatterbrained.  Even his longer pieces, like the spacey “No News” and the trip-hoppy “Seratonin” fill their running times with big hooks and sonic thrills.

Simple Kid’s debut album came out in 2004 to modest success.  He toured with some bigger names, such as the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Kings Of Leon, but didn’t achieve that much acclaim in the United States.  The years between 1 and 2 seemed endless for McFeely’s cult fanbase, but good ol’ Yep Roc Records picked up the one-man pop factory and released his second album in 2007.  One song from 2, opener “Lil’ King Kong,” was used in a Saturn car ad (say, how did that work out?), as well as a number of ads in the UK.  Simple Kid has yet to release a follow-up, but I’m sure that it will be a welcome diversion from the sea of only somewhat-exciting new music out there these days.

Watch: Simple Kid shaving to “Seratonin” from 2 (2007)

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~ by E. on May 7, 2010.

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