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The best kept secret in music



Until now, Kelpie has largely managed to stay off the national radar, preferring instead to hide out in Lawrence. But that's beginning to change; the playful, guitar-driven band is touring the Midwest and opening for the likes of the Dresden Dolls. The things that set Kelpie apart as a live act are its earnest energy and its complete lack of commitment to any time signature. Kelpie singer Casey Burge -- vocally reminiscent of Sunny Day Real Estate's Jeremy Enigk or Ted Leo -- displays an impressive range that stays mostly upbeat, despite some surprisingly dark lyrics. The band as a whole makes inventive music that's rich, bouncy, sometimes sad, sometimes thoughtful -- and very much its own. - The Pitch

"Kelpie - One"

I will assume the title means there will be a “Two” and “Three” hopefully, because this new band has a lot to offer and quite a few ways to offer it. But that is not to say that everything is totally perfect on this, their first race out of the gate. But there is definitely a lot to work with, and that is stronger than any of the little things.

Starting off with a Karate-esque jam that veers between full-out rock and gentle jazz, the skill of this trio is apparent from the get-go. Equally comfortable at high volumes and low as well, the name of the game for Kelpie is dynamics, and they use them for all their worth. Both catchy rhythm changes and anthemic sing-alongs abound in most of the songs, with the exception of the over-eager ode “To the Pedophile” which is needlessly low-key and a little preachy in subject and execution. But when has eagerness been punished in emo music?

That is the resolution I would like to see the group work out in future releases. Is their music simply serving as a vehicle for their message, or will it become part of the message with its power and strength? Kelpie has the signs of becoming one of those astounding bands, like Fugazi or Sunny Day, if they could slip off some of the artifices of where they may have come from (like anything that reminds you of the Casket Lottery or Braid). That being said, right now, they are rocking hard and well, no matter what I say, so get this record and check it out for yourselves.

I know I’ll be staying tuned to their next record. The answer is blowing in the wind. -

"Top Local Releases of 2003"

Lawrence's most perplexing new rock band also delivered the year's most rewarding record. Lead singer and songwriter Casey Burge's love affair with daredevil chord structures and seismic shifts in rhythm never overshadowed his affection for melody, making "One" an album that challenged first-time listeners but rewarded the ones who made the investment. Burge's lyrics were equally adventurous, blending religious and mythic imagery into poetic portraits of pedophiles and other unsavory characters. -


Sometimes change can be a good thing.

Change came for Kelpie when pop-punk-math-core band Diversion 4.0 split up more than a year ago. After Casey Burge (guitarist/vocalist) and Nathan Harold (bassist) left that band and hooked up with John Momberg (drummer) to form Kelpie, they dropped all but their algebraic leanings and started writing the songs that would become "One."

Kelpie's music has more in common with the spiky, angular riffing of No Knife and the melodic style of Sunny Day Real Estate than most of the other, ever-faithful, yet less-focused purveyors of math-rock.

"One" is actually two groups of material recorded separately in the first half of 2003, and it shows. Tracks 1-5 exhibit a raw, more "live" sound, while the last four songs showcase the band's ability to multi-task in the studio; acoustic guitars, layers of harmonious vocals and violins are prevalent throughout.

The band tackles a variety of topics ranging from Bible stories to failed relationships to pedophilia. In "To my peers," they tell the story of Christ's conception and wandering through the wilderness, with Lucifer berating Him all the while. The phrase "Oh, horror!" has never been sung in such a deceptively hooky way.

In "To Feng Huang," the finest moment of the first half comes as Burge cries for the attention of the legendary bird: "Are you sleeping while you're perched? Can I disrupt your resounding slumber now?" while Harold and Momberg pound out a fluid melody in 3/4.

The band's chemistry is undeniable as they plow through tricky dynamic changes, never playing the same tired exercise like other mathy bands who can't keep time. On "To My Prisoners," they exhibit this perfectly, exploding one second, drawing back three seconds later. The constant rhythmic shifting toward the end only pushes the point further.

On "A lesson in surrender" the band leaps forth with a punchy opening, layered by a glockenspiel, only slowing enough to let a violin creep in from underneath while Burge sings of Samson before his imminent defeat (in three parts, no less): "With lotus under my tongue and wine in my veins, surrender is great." The classical guitar in "Engaged" is inserted smoothly and the crisp acoustic strum and violin of "Apologia" perfectly complement the painful exchange between two failed lovers.

This is a great rock record with a great deal of versatility. If there is only "One" Kelpie album available, then I'll be patiently waiting for "Two." -


Kelpie - "One" out in 2003 via Archer Ave Records.
Kelpie - "Hey friends it's Kelpie" out in the fall of 2005 via Birthday Party Records.


Feeling a bit camera shy


Much like the Morrissey single "November Spawned a Monster," the band Kelpie is a result of the bleak November of 2002. In the song Moz sings, "What can make good all the bad that's been done?" Taking this to heart, drummer John Momberg, vocalist/guitarist Casey Burge, bassist Nate Harold, and keyboardist/guitarist Josh Atkinson, used the untimely disintegration of their long term musical projects to form the monster known as Kelpie. As a collective, the four-piece strives to create something entirely new and unlike their previous musical endeavors. They have completed five national tours and multiple local and regional shows. Kelpie recorded their second full-length this past winter with Matt Talbot (formerly of HUM), at his studio, Great Western Record Recorders in Champaign, IL. Recently signed with a new label, Birthday Party Records, Kelpie hopes to move forward with their refreshing, new sound, and bring it to a wider audience. Drawing on influences ranging from the Beatles, The Beach Boys, Converge, Hum, and Elvis Costello, Kelpie has been described as lounge-rock, a mathy singer/ songwriter project, progressive pop, "fancylad meandermusik," and everything in-between.