Reed KD
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Reed KD - The Ashes Bloom
Record Label: Dirty Laundry Records
Release Date: December 31, 2006

With the thirst for acoustic folk rock (and unique music in general) hardly maintaining a notable presence in the thriving sectors of today's music scene, it's always refreshing to find a band or performer that sports such a bold choice of genres. But, moreover on the concept, it's obviously a more enjoyable circumstance when the specified source has talent and can project the sound in a respectable manner. In relation to this desire for a break or deviation from musical and cultural repetition that many listeners have, it should be noted that Californian musical nomad Reed Dahlmeier is indeed out there, in his van, offering his own unique sounds to anyone willing to listen. Reed KD's The Ashes Bloom is a delicate, sedated 12-song compilation that brought forth images of Walt Whitman, barren country sides, Elliott Smith, 70s thriller Deliverance, opium dens, and other surprising pictures to my head even upon my first listen. One of the more interesting aspects of this album's conception is the variation of instruments that Dahlmeier plays, which include guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica, piano, Rhodes, keyboard, bass and accordion.

The album opens with the first track entitled, "Road Flares." This opening track hosts the general spectrum of sound that is seen throughout the album with its beginning minute sporting an Elliott Smith comparison that is so frequently associated with Reed KD, and then taking a turn towards a faster folk-rock style accompanied by a well-placed harmonica appearance. Another notable track is the fourth, "Travel Sick Blues." The song's vibe and lyrical substance really don't stray from what could be drawn from the title; it's one of the album's softer installments with quiet, weak vocals coexisting with the subtle applications of guitar and harmonica. The sixth track "You Can Call Me," is a more outgoing pop-rock song that has TRL single written all over it, with a catchy chorus that will win over the listener on the very first play. Now onto one of my favorite tracks, "Even If I," eighth on the list. Being a sucker for lyrics, what attracts me most to this song are its opening words which go as follows: "My hands are bruised from catching stones she threw despite all my pleas." A slight change of pace in the album's flow, the eleventh track, "Three Long Years" proposes a more folk/country-oriented persuasion but, personally, is one of my least favorite tracks. The Ashes Bloom finishes with "The Winter," perhaps the mellowest and delicately orchestrated of the bunch. This final track, while respectable for its orientation and how it fits in with the fading out of the compilation, left me a bit disappointed and appetent for something more. I would have preferred more solid closure.

While I generally like The Ashes Bloom, especially after the latter listens, there are some negative points that appear throughout. The most mentionable of these flaws is the lack of diversity between some of the songs; though the style with which Reed KD performs is unique, the songs themselves rarely develop their own characteristics aside from the album's norm. Another perceivable flaw in the album is the fact that the vocals are so blatantly reluctant and withdrawn. Though they are well on-key and appropriate for the songs' contexts, their soft delivery often had me thirsty for a more powerful, ambitious approach. The Ashes Bloom's production is, admittedly, slightly substandard to what you might hear from mainstream bands, but is acceptable given the relative obscurity of Reed KD. All in all, despite liking it, I really feel that the album promotes a strong sense of untapped potential. Reed KD's newest creation might have just set a precedent for many great future creations.

If you like your music soft, thoughtful, and poetic, or simply are in the market for a nice break from the recycled music that often laces the three medias, I would suggest that you give The Ashes Bloom by Reed KD a few listens. With all features considered, Reed KD is one of the better bands you might not know of.

www.myspace.com/reedkd
www.reedkd.com

Recommended if you like: The Prize Fighter Inferno, Elliot Smith, City and Colour - AbsolutePunk.net


Reed KD — The Ashes Bloom
Produced, recorded and mixed by Reed KD
Mastered by Gavin Lurssen


Reed KD’s The Ashes Bloom might easily be filed under the umbrella of Elliott Smith acolytes, but the sometimes-similar vocal qualities and singer/songwriter status are really the only likenesses here. Perspective is a crevasse that separates Smith and Reed Dahlmeier, the UC Santa Cruz Global Economics major who chose to live out of his van to pursue his music as Reed KD. While Smith seemed to exist within his problems, Reed KD sings with the weariness of someone who has just emerged from a morass of troubles and can finally see for miles.


Opening The Ashes Bloom, “Road Flares” is easily the best track on the whole album, with its rollicking tra-la-la of guitar, harmonica and mandolin. Reed KD’s lyrics and instrumentation flow best in the confines of a happy, head-bopping pace. “Say You’ll Miss Me,” describes the fallout of drinking, as Reed KD sings, “I want to do whatever’s right for you / And clear out all these empty bottles / To tell the truth, I’m sick of self-abuse as a means to forget all my troubles.” The song follows the similar themes of Smith’s “Baby Britain,” in which Smith refers to empty bottles as “dead soldiers” but wallows in the abyss of the situation, rather than recognizing that it’s time to make change. Reed KD demonstrates that he has already climbed that mountain.


The album’s musical arrangements are obviously lovingly cultivated, and Reed KD’s use of various instruments — including guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica, piano, Rhodes, keyboard, bass and accordion — make for a wonderfully rich sound. Recorded in “various closets, bedrooms, and living rooms called home throughout 2005 and 2006,” as the liner notes explain, The Ashes Bloom has the spark of phoenix-like promise for future albums. (Dirty Laundry Records)
- West Coast Performer


Reed KD
The Ashes Bloom
Dirty Laundry Records

If humans had cryogenically frozen Simon and Garfunkel, somehow managed to splice their genes together and then dumped the resulting musician in Northern California today, we would have another Reed Dahlmeier: the namesake and the creative engine under the hood of Reed KD. On The Ashes Bloom, Reed KD's first full-length album, Reed provides impressive instrumentation: vocals, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica, piano, Rhodes, keyboards, bass, accordion and programmed beats. This would normally only raise an eyebrow, but Dahlmeier himself plays all of these instruments while harmonizing with himself!

Joined by siblings Hal and Brice-drums and piano on "Road Flares" and "Sinking Stone," respectively-and Michael Peimani-drums on "Sinking Stone" and "Even If I"-Reed Dahlmeier croons with a slight breathiness that's simultaneously lonely and endearing. The twelve songs on The Ashes Bloom focus thematically on love, but they do so obliquely, such as in "Say You'll Miss Me," when Dahlmeier's voice nearly fades beneath the country-folk rhythm of a twangy acoustic guitar, singing: "So now we will do what we have to / and cut burning branches."

Nowhere does The Ashes Bloom run short of poetically-inclined expression. The images Dahlmeier connects are, once again, subtle but powerful. He opens "Travel Sick Blues" by relating: "Bought a van missing half a bumper, / turned the back to my place of slumber, / then hit the road on a short road trip, / though my plans were indefinite." Such seamless rhymes come effortlessly to Dahlmeier. The song opens with a classical-sounding guitar tumbling down a scale then moves into a snappy, folksy hand-strummed rhythm that fittingly carries the stripped-down tune. The only other instrumentation on "Travel Sick Blues" consists of a brief, lilting harmonica and Dahlmeier's airy falsetto harmonies fluidly accenting his melodies.

Despite the obvious parallels to the latter, Reed KD isn't content to be pigeon-holed as a Simon and Garfunkel knock-off. "Sinking Stone" makes use of piano, keyboards and the Fender Rhodes, while "Roll Over" and "You Can Call Me" (my personal favorite track on the album) layer programmed drums on that mix.

I think these were Reed KD's self-described "experimental folk" songs, although they stay firmly rooted in pop-folk melodies; but those who might cringe at the term "experimental" stay on board...The Ashes Bloom is well worth a prime spot in your listening rotation.

"You Can Call Me" is one of the best mixes of a 60's-sounding folk song with a catchy, drum machine beat I've come across. The first time I heard it, I wondered if another artist had been spliced into the mix. A warbling synthesizer hums a low introduction to some programmed drums before a minimalist snare-snare-bass pattern and a falling lead-guitar line enter. The chorus is lyrically simple-"You can call me / anytime you're feeling lonely. / I'll do my best to be your friend. / But believe me / I know that it won't be easy. / I never wanted things to end."-but the irresistible beat, undeniable guitar melody, the sound the words carry and the fitting rhyme stay with you from the first listen.

There's not a bad song on the album, and I had a tough time picking a favorite from so many great tunes. If you like folk-rock... if you like guitar and catchy, beautiful melodies... if you like Bright Eyes or Simon and Garfunkel or Rocky Votolato... if you like good music, buy The Ashes Bloom.


Timothy C. Avery
April 2007 - Independent Clauses


"Take Sujan Stevens, but discard the religious shell and full orchestra. Add a Simon, a Garfunkel, some Joshua Radin, and a harmonica for flavor. Now let it simmer in your mind for a minute, and if all goes well, it should come out like Reed KD... His indie spirit floats through his songs, the sound of which can transport you onto a cross-country Greyhound, staring out the window at miles of cornfields, or to a rainy Sunday afternoon spent beneath a cozy blanket."
- Playgirl


Discography

In Case the Comet Comes (2009)
The Ashes Bloom (2007)
This Is Indie Rock (2005)

Photos

Bio

Reed KD is an indie-pop-folk-bluegrass act from a small coastal town in Northern California characterized by his blend of vocal harmonies, fluid multi-instrumentation, unique arrangements, and his ability to write a hook. While his influences have often led to comparisons to Paul Simon, Elliott Smith, and Joshua Radin, his songs manage to feel classic, intimate and fresh. With willowy vocals, intricate instrumentation, wit-filled lyrics and sea-soaked imagery, The Ashes Bloom is a testament to what one person can imagine in their Northern California closet.

Written, produced, recorded and mixed by Reed in various living rooms, bedrooms, and closets called home throughout 2006, The Ashes Bloom showcases Reed's range as a writer, producer, engineer and multi-instrumentalist featuring performances on the guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, harmonica, accordion, Rhodes, etc. Additionally, Reed released the album himself.

Upon completion of the new album, Reed quickly built a band around his songs to fill his uniquely energetic, unpretentious, kazoo wielding, boot stomping live show. After spearheading a new, refreshingly positive music scene in the bay area, Reed booked his own national tour playing 45 shows in two months. For a self booked tour, Reed had great success playing with known acts across the country like Romantica, Kris Koza, Devil Makes Three and The Rosewood Theives. as well as playing at great venues like Hotel Cafe(LA), Pianos (NY) and The Tripple Door (WA).

Though The Ashes Bloom is Reed's first release, his earlier demo recordings led to his song "Seventeen" being featured on Deep Elm's third volume of their compilation series This is Indie Rock and was consistently reviewed as "... one of the best bands you've never heard." Furthermore, Reed has had 8 of his songs air nationally on TLC and The Discovery Channel. Reed is currently working on his second album tentatively due out January 15th.

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