Album Review: This Is The Kit – Bashed Out

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There’s nothing stable about the style of music Kate Stables’ project This Is The Kit inconsistently plays. From banjo picking folk to electric guitar driving rock, psychedelic full band sounds to soft, intimate songs, this project’s genre stretches far across the musical spectrum. Bashed Out is extra special because it is the product of long time collaboration with The National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced and released the project on his own label Brassland.

Throughout the album, Stables plays trumpet, percussion, banjo, guitar and sings. Her talent as a multi instrumentalist is surely the reason why the music style constantly varies. The album begins with Misunderstanding, which contains a low energy, spooky, monotonous guitar theme complemented by tranquil keys and vocals. At the very end of the song, listeners get a taste of Dessner’s studio embellishments. The energy rises a bit as he brings electric guitar swells to life along with Stables’ muted trumped crescendo.

This energetic pulse continues onto the next track Silver John where a constant beat on the drum set is present for the entire song. Dominated by a steady electric rhythm guitar and background fills, the synth effects reveal Dessner’s true production skills. The last thirty seconds of the song are the most enticing as he creates a whir effect on the guitar, which mirrors the sound live DJs produce when they control turntables.

Stables’ true folk style appears on the third track Spores All Setting as she starts plucking the banjo. Although her banjo technique uncovers her acoustic roots, the real country-esque feel lies within a drumbeat that portrays a vivid spirit of traveling on the road. On Magic Spell, Stables graces her fans with magic words and poppy “di di di’s” as Dessner provides U2-ish studio effects in the chorus. The “ooo ooo’s” on the title track and Nits provide easy listening for fans that prefer the mellow, warmer side of This Is The Kit’s ever-changing genre. The seventh track not only portrays a softer, relaxing mood but also transports listeners to their most fantasized beach sunset, as the cymbals within the slow drumbeat mirror rough ocean currents and waves crashing.

This Is The Kit’s stellar studio performance, mixed with the mastermind production of Aaron Dessner, puts a magic spell on listeners; a magic spell that is rare and remarkable.

Scott J. Herman