Kingsley Flood's "Dust Windows" was my favorite album of 2010 and stayed atop my charts until the Decemberists dropped "The King Is Dead." Now the Boston band is about to drop a new six-song EP, "Colder Still," that knocks the Decemberists' leftovers EP "Long Live The King" out of my personal Number 1 spot. Funny.
"Colder Still" is an interim step for Kingsley Flood, a bit of a stylistic grabbag. "I Don't Wanna Go Home" (not the Southside Johnny tune) has some power-poppy, almost glam touches behind a typically headlong vocal from frontman/songwriter Naseem Khuri. "Wonderland" opens with a single guitar picked behind a close-up, unadorned Khuri confessional ("Brother I've been lying all along/my collar's not as clean as I let on...") before Jenée Morgan's fiddle comes in and the tune begins to canter. "Mannequin Man" is a speedy guitar rager that evokes early Elvis Costello or Graham Parker and is gonna leave 'em drained when played live. Title track "Colder Still" is spooky and November-y as you can get, with Khuri's long, torchy syllables against spikey electric guitar on the chorus.
The EP has gobs of everything I loved about Kinglsey Flood in the first place, from Khuri's tumbling, Dylanesque lyrics to the collaborative unity of the band's playing and the surprising little fills and accents on every song. There's a reason the band got featured on NPR and won New Artist of the Year at the 2010 Boston Music Awards and Best Roots Act in the 2010 and 2011 Boston Phoenix Best Music Poll. (That was Khuri yowling about "the pulse of the nation" on those WBZ ads, too, another KF song placement.)
That said, "Dust Windows" was recorded as a piece in a rural Vermont retreat, which added subtly but immeasurably to its greatness, the way it held together. "Colder Still" shows it was recorded in Somerville and Brooklyn studios and I suspect at different times. Still, it will tide me over until the band's next full-length album, which I'm told is all of a piece and written but not yet recorded. Can hardly wait.
Kingsley Flood will release "Colder Still" with a three-night run at Lizard Lounge, in Cambridge, December 8, 9, and 10. Support acts include Balthrop, Alabama (NYC) and Son of the Sun (Buffalo) on Dec. 8; Swear and Shake (NYC) and Paper Thick Walls (Chicago) on Dec. 9; and Jamie Kent and the Options (Northampton) and This Way (Portland) on Dec. 10. Shows are 21+, doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 advance, $12 at the door; order online at Brown Paper Tickets. Copies of "Colder Still" will be available at the shows, though the EP's official release date is January 10, 2012.