“Giants”, from Columbia’s Ned and the Dirt (formerly the Kindly Gents), shows the band members’ disparate influences bound together in a brand new volume for the indie rock bookshelf. Singer-songwriter Ned Durrett and his crew have an obvious desire for writing and producing on a highly professional and successful level; the songs here have easy potential to be hits. Stylistically, it seems like there is something that will hit home with any listener of modern rock, as the songs vary widely in tone.
Album opener “Physical Proof” changes gears several times, without giving its musical riders whiplash. Durrett’s voice is reminiscent of Wayne Coyne in parts and there are moments throughout the album that recall his band the Flaming Lips and slightly similar ones like Radiohead or the Arcade Fire. The first song starts as moody pop and ends with driving pop punk for the closing and the change is a wake-up call at first, but makes good sense after another listen. “Closer” pulls a similar ruse, starting out as synthy dream pop with some unexpected post-hardcore guitar elements thrown in for good measure. The heavily layered crescendo brings it to an emotional end. Most of the other songs focus on Ned’s soulful crooning with the band having a nice southern rock element. That sets it apart from a lot of other modern indie rock bands, but might still draw apt comparisons with bands like Kings of Leon or My Morning Jacket. There is a nice cranked up guitar solo in “Turkish Delight” and “Dear Liza” is subtle and moody with lots of effects. The last two songs deal in soulful pop ballads, which is yet more range in the band’s repertoire.
The combination of soul, southern rock and synths is inspired, though, and gives Ned and the Dirt a great musical identity. It’s always interesting to see a band throw all their influences in the blender and come out with a smoothie that just isn’t a jumbled mess and Ned and company succeed in their musical kitchen experiment.
Recommended if you like: Radiohead, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket
Sean Knight is a native South Carolinian who has spent his life bouncing back and forth between SC and Texas, playing in bands you probably never heard of in both states and stinking up open-mic nights in the Low Country for many years. He plays, collects, listens to and probably spends too much of his life obsessing over music.