The local music scene is an ever changing landscape no matter where you come from. When I started making music with my band Friday Life back in 2017, there were around five bands that comprised the music scene, maybe a few more. However, four years on, Friday Life is the only band left standing, and that’s remarkable even to me. Local bands breaking up happens for a multitude of reasons: people begin going to college, members move out of state, scandals radically shift the prospects bands once had, the list goes on. It is as common as it is unfortunate.
For awhile, Boston based band Kitner seemed to be another local band come and gone. Forming in 2015, the band started as a five piece featuring Conor Maier (guitar, vocals), Brianne Costa (keys, vocals), James Christopher (guitar), Christine Atturio (bass), and Will Buiel (drums). They quickly recorded an EP of home demos, followed shortly by the release of a self-titled EP in September of that year.
The EP gained momentum, with many people downloading it on bandcamp. The band played a few shows in Massachusetts over the next year as well. They even teased a return to the studio. However, due to their commitments to other bands as well as some member changes, the band vanished. For over four years, Kitner seemed to be just a memory, with the self titled EP being all that remained.
However, in 2019, Kitner quietly returned to the studio. Now a four piece consisting of Conor, Brianne, James, and Will, the band recorded their debut album, titled Shake The Spins. Announcing their return in April of 2021, Kitner set to work promoting their new album, set to be released in October through Relief Map Records. The hype was immediate, not just because the long absence had allowed their previous EP to garner a larger following, but because the music involved sounded incredible.
The first single from the album, Beth Israel, was premiered on July 29th by The Alternative. Starting with some mellow but present acoustic guitar, the muted vocals soon enter, giving the song a primitive feel, like a bedroom demo recorded on tape. It is warm, and it builds anticipation for when the wave comes crashing down.
Sure enough, the wave hits a little over a minute in. Roaring, anthemic guitars meet steady, powerful drums that hit you like a train. The hushed vocals are replaced by rough, raw shouting from Conor that brings to mind an alternate universe where Jim James of My Morning Jacket fronted an emo band. Brianne’s light voice perfectly compliments Conor’s vocals, adding a dimension to the music that fits in your ears just right.
The wall of sound soon breaks in the final act of the song, with the acoustic guitar and softer vocals returning, accompanied by the solemn wail of a feedbacking guitar. The interplay of Conor and Brianne’s voices is clearer here as the two sing different lines, creating a tapestry of words and sounds. The drums begin building up again before sending the song off with bluster accompanied by some retro sounding keyboards.
Kitner’s return can only be described as triumphant, and that’s after just one single. If the rest of the album sounds like this, then Shake The Spins might easily be the album of the year.