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Boston-based quartet the Francis Kim Band whets the collective appetite with their new five-song EP, Nobody Loves You.
“En route to your affections,” Francis Kim sings in “Every Song,” the second track of the Francis Kim Band’s second EP titled Nobody Loves You -- released in February of this year, following their November '03 debut, The Orange Concern. Kim’s soft voice and simple, yet affecting lyrics make it difficult to avoid letting the music waft into the listener’s world, serving as both a soundtrack and a guiding rod to situations that deal with relationships and love.
The Francis Kim Band is a Boston-based group that has been touring the New England/East Coast independent and college circuits since 2003, garnering accolades along the way from musicians such as fellow independent folk guitarist/singer Melissa Ferrick and critics such as Steve Gisselbrecht from The Noise Boston. The band consists of vocalist/guitarist Kim, bassist Chris Shelton -- who studied at the Berklee College of Music --Malaysia-born and Berklee alum Robin Lai, who plays the drums, and Eugene Song, lead guitarist and vocalist. (On this EP, Youn Choi contributes keyboards on several tracks.) To promote their EP, the four-piece has been doing shows since February and will be stopping by Delaware, Washington, D.C., Rhode Island and New York -- among other East Coast cities -- through July. Unfortunately, there do not appear to be dates slated for the West Coast – though it is foresseable in the future for this rising young band, if they are so inclined.
But about the music. Nobody Loves You has five tracks: “Baby Knows Better,” “Every Song (radio mix),” “Vestigial Tail,” “Picture,” and “Every Song (extended mix).” It is EP's such as this one that makes me realise how we cannot shortchange the oft-ignored format, which bands such as They Might Be Giants have continued to capitalize upon with their own releases. Brief as five tracks may seem, the songs -- which often recall the singalong-pop of songs such as “Five Foot Four” from The Orange Concern -- can hit you all the more harder. The outstanding track of the collection is without a doubt “Every Song,” with Kim singing in a pleading manner -- while backed with the band’s melodic vocals -- to echo the process of writing linked with the loved one. One can only agree with the decision to put two versions of the song on the EP. “Vestigial Tail” contains a kinetic rhythm that catches you from the opening bars.
Hailing from the New England music scene (and to a large extent, the Boston hub that includes the Berklee College of Music where Francis, Chris, Robin and Eugene met), the Francis Kim Band reminds me of another great, independent, New England, but long-defunct '80s band called Galaxie 500. Remember them? They covered songs like Joy Division’s “Ceremony” and the Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now,” turning them into songs filled with slow-paced reverb and atmospheric harmonies that seem to rise up like incense smoke twirling around one’s ears, making you forget post-punk Manchester and the swingin’ '60s from which those two other bands hailed.
As a band that is three-fourths Asian/Asian-American, the Francis Kim Band begins a burgeoning tradition in American rock/pop. For it cannot be ignored that despite the likes of James Iha (former Smashing Pumpkins guitarist) and…hmm…Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band with John Lennon, Asians/Asian Americans have had little exposure in mass media to break through the perpetual stereotype of doctors and lawyers.
But back to the music: the simplicity of the Francis Kim Band’s guitar melodies are continuing a tradition of just plain, contagious melodies rooted in the guitar. Asian/Asian-American or not, Kim’s voice lilts and coaxes with extreme ease, and it should only be a matter of time for him to fully realise its strength. Lyrically, Kim’s semi-comical and ironic narrative delivery found in songs like “If you Push me Hard Enough, There is Nothing I Can Do”, from The Orange Concern, are sorely missed (though “Baby Knows Better” briefly recaptures it). But I suppose all in due time -- perhaps for the full-length follow-up?
Nobody Loves Me ep (2005)
The Orange Concern (2003)
Industrial Canvas ep (2000)
For more information about the band members, their past and current whereabouts, soundbytes and to contact them, go to:
Date Posted: 3/24/2005