The Key Party
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The Key Party

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Darren Gaines The Key Party is a “kitchen sink brew of the most imaginable and unimaginable instruments. What results is a delicious concoction… that proclaims Darren G. as the King of Kitchen Sink Lo-Fi Indie.” (RadioMike Austin TX-March 2007)

His debut Hit Or Miss “is 15 songs of rock and roll poetry celebrating the debauched, the broken, the drunken and the misfitting. Gaines is a poet in the same sense that Exene or Lou Reed is a poet: as much about an attitude and a stance as about specific words and notes struck. Musically Gaines has a voice of tattered velvet that falls between Tom Waits and Steve Wynn (via The Dream Syndicate not Vegas)..." (PopMatters 2007)

The Key Party is “ a house party of an unusually artistic coterie. Indeed, many of the best moments are when the neo-folkie most engages his party guests: the Waitsian cacophony of “Wildcard,” the arms-around-the-shoulders fraternal hollering of “We Love You” and the girl-boy harmony of “Look Like Hell.” When alone though, as when his baritone buckles in the loping ballad “Monday Morning,” Gaines sings as if he just woke up from that joyous get-together, only to find his head aching and his house wrecked.” (CMJ New Music Report May 2007)

Hit or Miss is a “fun, loose, rockin,” “pot and pan slappin type of album.” “There is no overproduction, no cover-ups of imperfections, just what you hear is what you get.” (thefirenote.blogspot.com). And when “The Key Party puts it all together… Gaines’ rock and roll at all costs attitude is absolutely contagious.” (PopMatters 2007) - all


The Key Party's Hit or Miss was named CMJ.com's album of the day on Friday May 25, 2007

KEY PARTY: Hit Or Miss
On the Key Party's introductory LP, New York singer-songwriter Darren Gaines gets a good bit of help from his friends. Accompanied by a rotating cast of thirteen, Gaines positions Hit Or Miss somewhere between a solo song cycle and a house party of an unusually artistic coterie. Indeed, many of the best moments are when the neo-folkie host engages his party guests: the Waitsian cacophony of "Wildcard," the arms-around-the-shoulders fraternal hollering of "We Love You" and the girl-boy harmony of "Look Like Hell." When alone though, as when his baritone buckles in the loping ballad "Monday Morning," Gaines sings as if he just woke up from that joyous get-together, only find his head aching and his house wrecked. - CMJ


Download of the Week: "Born Permanently Cool" by the Key Party. Late one night, former San Franciscan Darren Gaines was channel surfing in his New York apartment when he happened upon a showing of Ang Lee's "The Ice Storm." During the key party scene, in which spouse-swapping couples pair off by randomly fishing the car keys of other willing swingers from a glass bowl, Gaines was inspired to use a similar lottery-like system for his next musical project. He invited a bunch of musician friends into the studio and had them select from a variety of instruments -- everything from traditional music-making devices, such as guitars and drums, to kitchen spoons and children's toys -- by randomly pulling a piece of paper with the instrument's name on it from a bowl. The resulting din sounds a bit like Nick Cave meets no-wave. Download "Born Permanently Cool" at www.myspace.com/thekeypartynyc. The Key Party plays June 27 at the Rickshaw Stop. - SF Chronicle


Darren Gaines, who is The Key Party, says things like, “The Key Party came to me like someone else’s wife at 3 a.m. on a Friday night. Bingo. The lottery” and sings songs he calls “revolutionary songs and terroristic ballads”. While Mr. Gaines’ bio reads like an over arching caricature of a struggling rock and roll singer-songwriter, his record Hit Or Miss is substantially believable. Hit Or Miss is 15 songs of rock and roll poetry celebrating the debauched, the broken, the drunken and the misfitting. Gaines is a poet in the same sense that Exene or Lou Reed is a poet: as much about an attitude and a stance as about specific words and notes struck. Musically Gaines has a voice of tattered velvet that falls between Tom Waits and Steve Wynn (via The Dream Syndicate not Vegas). Gaines is comfortable with his acoustic guitar, the constructions basically folk in nature, and his steady strum anchors the songs before they are adorned with his band’s chanting, clanging, orgiastic brew of complimentary noise. But it’s Gaines’ voice that fills these songs with attitude, his croon oozing around and through the cigarette smoke that shrouds these songs.

At 15 songs Hit or Miss is too long by five. There definitely feels like there’s some filler here. Gaines has a habit of rewriting the same motif over and over, certainly lyrically if not always sonically, and that can get tiresome. But when The Key Party puts it all together on songs like “That’s The Way We Do It Here” and “Just Not My Day”, Gaines’ rock and roll at all costs attitude is absolutely contagious. You can smell the leather pants and feel the stale beer, or something like that. - Pop Matters


The Key Party: “Hit or Miss” (no label)
You know, listening to certain CDs is a lot like getting high for the first time: according to urban legend, no one ever really gets “stoned” their first time smoking pot. Similarly, when I hear a brand new disc of totally new stuff it often times comes off flat, it leaves me cold even. But then there are two things that can happen: if I listen to it at least once or twice more, maybe three at the most, there will come a point where I’ll suddenly click with the music as a whole, through the gateway of one particular song, or – more precisely – a particular hook or riff or a solo or the way it ends; whatever it is, that’s the catalyst that spurs me on to really love it. Now, if, on the other hand, I’m on my fourth or fifth listen and I am not excited about it but at the same time I don’t actively dislike it then it will probably not get listened to anymore after that and I’ll chuck it in with the rest of those like-minded CDs.
The Key Party is somewhat of an iconoclastic outfit. They don’t have any normal, faddy, trendy slick pop-oeuvres in their music. It is basically the brainchild of one Darren Gaines, from New York City. Gaines and a bunch of friends made “Hit or Miss”, their debut opus, by recording it around the country in places such as: “…living rooms, bathrooms and bedrooms in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Washington D.C. and Jacksonville, FL”, according to the back of the CD sleeve.
The lyrics are a mish-mash of mad poetry, beat writing and pop-intonations. The music is a great thing to listen to. It’s a bittersweet, alt-pop séance with a tinge – just a tad – of country in there somewhere, mixed in with the rest of the gumbo, with a hearty sprinkling of Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits and maybe just a drop of Lou Reed.
Songs I really dig on this CD are: track #14, “Monday Morning”; track #11, “Manhattan Song”; track #9, “Police KDM”; track #10, Sideshow” and lastly, but not least (the last cut), track #15, “To Begin Again”. Like a lot of other good stuff out these days, there is no label involved here, at least not yet – but you can check out more about them at their website and on My Space, which is, I believe, owned by that foul, evil Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (son-of-a-bitch): http://www.thekeypartynyc.com & http://www.myspace.com/thekeypartynyc - KM. - Reviewer Magazine


Discography

Hit or Miss (LP-15 songs) released 2006/07. 4 tracks including We Love You, Sideshow and To Begin Again have been in heavy rotation on woxy.com. Radio add date is June 4th.

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Bio

The Key Party, brainchild of SF ex-pat now NYC native Darren Gaines, is like the mythical party of the same name, you never know who you’re going to get but you know it will be different. The debut CD Hit Or Miss is a DIY to do. Created in bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms and even one backyard, this $100 microphone affair is what punk rock teethed on. There was a “key party” bowl involved, both as the bowl where musicians dipped their hands in to choose, among other things, what instrument they might bang on and as an instrument. There were toys, homemade instruments and even the kitchen sink thrown in for good meter. And there were friends, “a house party of unusually artistic coterie” said CMJ (2007), who mingled into the soire. What came of this mismatched shebang has been hailed as “15 songs of rock and roll poetry celebrating the debauched, the broken, the drunken and the misfitting.” (PopMatters 2007).>