I’m ready to declare a winner in November for my ‘Album of the Year.’ Khruangbin‘s debut release The Universe Smiles Upon You is one of the catchiest, soothing, soul searching, slow-mo funk albums I’ve heard. It was released last week, November 6th by Night Time Stories and is readily available on their official bandcamp page and streaming on Spotify. There’s really no excuse if you haven’t hit play, yet. The dreamy psych-rock soundscape is a perfect match for a sunrise coffee. The kind of album Curtis Mayfield’s Super Fly would hang out with.
Khruangbin means “Engine fly” aka airplane in Thai. The trio (Laura Lee -- bass, Mark Speer -- guitar, Donald Johnson -- drums) got their break organically when fellow artist Bonobo included their song “A Calf Born in Winter” on his mix for an episode of Late Night Tales. They were signed shortly after and began working out plans to record their debut in a secluded barn in the small town of Barton, Texas.
The Thailand connection is important because in several interviews they list a cult blog called Monrakplengthai as a large influence on how they became a band. Their music isn’t funk but it sure shares certain elements. It’s a genius mix of surf and soul most likely from their heavy listening to the old 50’s British band The Shadows who were popular before Beatlemania. You’ve likely heard The Shadows’ instrumental Apache before.
According to an interview with Lee the band expects to tour heavily in 2016 (UK/European festivals) with an American run or two planned. Practicing is tough for the trio these days as Lee just recently moved overseas while Speer and DJ still reside in Texas. The band practices on Skype and when its time to really get down to it, Lee travels back to the countryside barn to play. They have already set aside time to record a sophomore album and release it in 2017. The future is certainly bright, especially for a trio just two years in the making.
Here’s two more songs not included on The Universe Smiles Upon Us. Someone needs to send Quentin Tarantino these tracks for Kill Bill Vol. 3!