Kudzu is an inexorable force intent on destroying Southern civilization. It is a supervillain in vine form. It is an evil, malevolent plant that cannot be stopped.
In a way, it is also an appropriate name for an electroclash band from Missouri. Wait, does the vine grow in Missouri?
Well, Kudzu the band is intense, their music moving forward, driving, growing, spreading, pulling down trees... Okay, maybe not that last one, as far as i can tell from this album. Kudzu the vine is slow and inexorable, while Kudzu the band is fast and furious and unstoppable.
Musically, Kudzu is Mark Gillenwaters on guitar and Seth Goodwin on synths and drum machine. Both are credited with vocals, so i have no idea who is singing at any given point of this record. It sounds like it might all be the same guy, but it's hard to tell with this kind of thing.
The album starts off with a furious electronic beat: a rapid pulse followed by a steady, distorted thudding as the vocalist yells about Some Cop. Distorted sounds chug through, and the whole song moves along as a fast, crazy, fever dream of noise and propulsive beats and messy vocals. Wonderful.
They slow it down slightly for No Backbone, the beat a hi-hat tishing as a guitar chugs away. The vocals are loud an echoed. The overall effect here is more post-punk than the industrial nose of the opener.
Kudzu take on yet another style for their third track here. Defeated is a wavering synth bass drone, a metronomic 1980s beat, chiming guitar, and the voice clear so that the vocalist's naturally deep voice can shine through. This reminds me of Clan of Xymox or Moev, two bands you almost never hear as references. Nice.
They move back to the early 2000s for Burn Yourself and electroclash tune of really fast strumming, keyboard drums, and a drum machine on three shots of espresso. They contrast this with Balking the Grave, a song that should be dark and moody, and is appropriately gothy with a good synth pop beat scattered and clattering. Sleep in Disguise is similarly moody, with the guitar clattering over some lovely synths. The song starts out decently, not their best work, but then on the chorus the voice howls "foreshadow" and the guitar chugs a nice little melody. Really beautiful
One purpose starts with a fast keyboard syncopation that reminds me of Depeche Mode, and then a chiming guitar bit, seemingly stolen from the band Antarctica/Ova Looven comes in, and then heavily distorted vocals. And suddenly i realize that Depeche Mode plus shoegazery guitar plus distorted gothy vocals = The Faint. Huh. This is nicely done.
Goodwin and Gillenwaters channel post-punk on When You Were Mine. The drum machine clatters in a more organic sounding beat than usual here, with lots of crashing cymbals and the voice singing flatly in a 1980s kind of way. The guitar sounds bright, really glowing under lush effects.
And then finally the record ends with B.I.Y.E., the synths and guitar both whirring over a wavering synth beat.
I really like what these guys are doing. I bet that the band Kudzu is a hell of a lot of fun in concert. If you like the 1980s, synthpop, electroclash, post-punk, or good rock music with a driving beat, then give Kudzu a chance.
But for the love of god, whatever you do, DON'T PLANT IT!