The Texas K.G.B. (that’s short for Kelly Green Band) has a new release coming out on November 18th, titled Welcome Home. The Austin-based quartet plays music that slides through the Americana genre from country, through alternative, and onward to rock. The band consists of Kelly Green on lead and slide guitar and vocals; her brother Kody Lee on drums and sax; Jace Cradle on acoustic guitar; and Violet Lee on bass. They work together to create a big sound that is colorful like a tent show and uplifts like jumping from a swing set into the wind.
“Welcome Home” begins the album, taking shape with a thick, cushiony bass. Kelly’s vocals ripple through the beat. She sings of that melody that drives the human spirit. Guitar and snare add a peaked dimension, electrifying as they thicken the sound. There is a dose of guitar solo ecstasy, then the band restrains themselves. (After all, they have a whole album ahead of them.) The sound is pulled back, putting on display Kelly Green and the band’s backing vocals with slow strums of the strings. Kelly’s vocals – smarting, then persistent – reach, beckoning to the listener. Background vocals and guitar weave themselves into the rhythm, with bass and drums joining, adding a ribbon of joy that shifts and shimmies in the beat like the walloping smell of a pie baked just for you, dancing beneath your nostrils. The sound intensifies into a roaring rock finish that exhilarates and might just make you thirsty.
The next song begins with lovely acoustic strumming and a deep jangly guitar. Kelly sings the paced lyrics to “Where Does Love Go?”, culminating in a question (as so many things do): Where does love go when it’s over? The band responds to that question with a swell of sound, drums that take up space and a bassline to connect it all. The song proves that the mark of love is indelible; sometimes it can sour, but other times it can be sweet – a memory worth some gratitude.
“Frangela” has attitude before I’ve even met her. Guitars swing with chords like a piece of brisket that’s just the right size, then Kelly comes in with vocals that melt lumpily into the ears, with enough edge to match the guitars without going theatrical. Instead, a tennis match ensues between the strings and the percussion, back and forth, building the tension, until I start fantasizing about playing guitar. After the excitement of “Frangela,” “The Way” eases in like morning sunlight between the blinds. Jace has lead vocals in this one, and a sound that is raspy and sinfully sweet like glazed popcorn over toffee, or something equally bad for your teeth. The vocal melody works with the rock guitar to create something that is irresistible.
The next song’s title, “Burnt Spoons”, indicates some dark stuff. But the song begins bright, moving along at a fast clip like sailing, punctured by the opioid-induced slowdown and letdown, the song proffers a glimmering, rock-diffused light to those dealing with the opioid monster that took 64,000 lives in 2016. Perhaps the solution starts with following a melody.
“Deeper” begins with vocals that are soulful, blues guitar stamping out a rhythm. Kelly’s vocals are strong and insistent, but courteous enough to let Jace do his thing on the guitar. The solo plays a precarious controlled fall, then Kelly sings, I feel like I’m losing control. The music, however, doesn’t allow the band to lose control. The song ends, and another begins.
“Funk 69” brings a groove into my ears like the smell of stale cigarette smoke enters the nostrils when opening the door to a room at an Econo Lodge. Jace plays sunshine on his guitar, and Kelly’s vocals are as real as her lungs will allow, arytenoids pushing the extremes in a way that reminds me of when I was on the receiving end of a peacock mating dance. The groove keeps up, while the guitar does cartwheels, back handsprings, and airflares across, over, and through the beat.
If you get the chance, hit up The Texas K.G.B. Their CD release is at Mohawk in Austin on November 18th. Let their sound nourish your soul and exercise your dancing muscles. And while you’re at it, add them to your Music Library – there should always be plenty of space.