July 15, 2008

A dream team plots its patient course

In the old dairy warehouse where King’s Daughters & Sons practice hangs a fake bat.

It fits the band. Singer and guitarist Joe Manning says that when he and Michael Heineman talked about starting a wholly separate endeavor from their previous collaborations in Leota, Manning’s goal veered toward the eerie: “I wanted to write ghost stories.”

Ghostly help captures part of the identity of KDS. The hands of bassist Todd Cook, keyboardist-singer Rachel Grimes — “she adds the Technicolor,” Heineman says — and drummer Kyle Crabtree get just as dirty with the orchestration in a band that trades in elegance, dramatic structures and progression beyond the usual.

But it’s progressive in a methodical way, like coals that burn long after the match lights them.

“It is a combination of what each of us does individually,” Cook says. “It’s not like we came up with an idea and said, ‘That’s it.’”

This month, King’s Daughters & Sons formally releases an EP with three songs, “Artemis,” “Dead Letter Office” and “Lorelei.” Copies of the session have been changing hands for months. 

“Artemis,” the opener, tests your attention in pleasant ways: Manning’s pedal steel and Heineman’s Americana lead guitar act as the traditional voice and chorus that suspends itself briefly to let Grimes and Heineman’s two-part, aching verse steal the air:

All we have, here below … 

The rigid, stalking beat of “Dead Letter Office” lays the foundation for Manning’s defiant narration. The 11-minute finale, “Lorelei,” haunts its way into a lush hopefulness driven by Grimes’ serpentine piano. 

It makes sense to wonder if the style and feel of King’s was dictated by the members’ previous projects. Aside from Leota, Rachel Grimes is recording a solo piano album, Book of Leaves. Crabtree and Cook play in Shipping News and have toured with Shannon Wright. Cook played bass on Dead Child’s first full-length, Attack, and Crabtree is also behind the kit in The Gold Jacket Club, who play July 19 at the 930 Listening Room. 

But all say KDS follows a singular muse. “This is certainly different than anything I’ve ever been involved with,” says Crabtree.

They play with Magnolia Electric Co. and Everest, which features former Louisvillian Russ Pollard, in October, and plan to tour once their debut album is finished.

“We’re turning into a pop band,” Cook jokes, noting that some songs are turning out shorter than five minutes. “But sometimes it takes that long for us to say what we want to say.”