Members: Adam Cargin, Abby Zdrale, Justin Bricco, Matthew Rajala, Ron Walters
With the Beatles humming into one ear and Jeff Buckley wailing into the other, The New Kentucky Quarter, honor their muses by crafting songs that marry the timeless pop breeziness of the former with the mystic explorations of the latter. Melodic guitar lines and warm male/female harmonies catch the ear while acoustic guitars, Wurlitzer touches, and a classy rhythm section flesh out the memorable, affecting songs. The New Kentucky Quarter formed in the early fall of 2003 and quickly recorded their first project, a nine song EP entitled Simple Things. Earning comparisons to such diverse acts as Whiskeytown, Belle and Sebastian, the Jayhawks and Coldplay, the disc continues to open doors for a young band with a surprisingly mature and distinct voice. The band has been playing frequently around Wisconsin and its neighboring states, mainly focusing on their hometown of Madison. They embarked upon their first midwest tour in early 2004, and have made several well-received public radio appearances since. After recently winning two Madison Area Music Awards (Best Americana Album and Best Americana Artist), the band continues to play out and write new material with earnest, impressing audiences and making friends wherever they go.
The New Kentucky Quarter's 9-song EP "Simple Things" is amazing. Period. Not much more to say. However, if I would leave it like this, I might evoke your interest but probably not enough curiosity for you to check this band from Madison, WI out this Saturday at Cowboy Monkey. With its simple and plausible but thoughtful creations full of emotional power, "Simple Things" easily bonds with your ears from the beginning on. Played mostly acoustically, the New Kentucky Quarter's music creates alluring and elegant intimacy. I normally try to avoid comparisons, but in this case it is safe to say that "Simple Things" is in song structure and melodies strongly reminiscent of Coldplay's first album "Parachutes", but less dramatic. However, unlike Coldplay, the NKQ adds the darling female voice of Abby Zdrale that wonderfully completes singer Ron Walter. With a Wurlitzer piano and cymbals The EP gets at times epic and eclectic to strip down to a basic acoustic guitar in the next moment again.
The Hub, Champaigne-Urbana
Fans of Coldplay, Travis, Belle & Sebastian, etc. will find a lot to like in the New Kentucky Quarter. This CD is chock full of melody; beautifully arranged compositions that are easy to take and easy to like. Ron Walters is the heart and soul of New Kentucky Quarter, writing all of the songs, singing lead and ostensibly playing guitar. Songwriters this good dont just land in ones lap every day. Vocals are the key element in making this type of material work and TNKQ has plenty of that. Walters has a smooth, natural voice and is frequently accompanied by one or more of his female bandmates. The acoustic guitar is central to Simple Things as well. The arrangements are unadorned, with piano, drums, bass and clean electric guitar; nothing flashy, just very effective. As with the best recordings, it is not the complexity, its the simplicity that makes things work so well. Not the mastery of playing but the honesty of how its played. Slow Dance and The Country Song are acoustic guitar and vocal songs. Its winsome material to be sure, a bit emo which makes it trendy, but just try not singing along to Long Way Down or finding a lyric in one of these songs that doesnt resonate with some aspect of your love life. Its ear candy for the masses and if it were played to death on the radio youd no doubt grow weary of it, but one listen and youll be hooked. Thats not a characteristic you can often attribute to a recording on any level. Simple Things was recorded at Simple Studios in Green Bay and the mix and overall sonic quality of the album is superb. One can only hope there is more material from this group on its way soon.
Rick's Cafe, Madison