The first time I heard Time King was at a show. I had just made my LIRR train, exhausted after a full work week yet trying to get in gig mode. Playing in Long Island puts you in the same giant boat with everyone from patriarchs Billy Joel and Public Enemy to mid-aughts revivalists Brand New and Taking Back Sunday - it's not illogical to consider "The Island" its own musical state, separate from the bustling city and its boroughs. So there I was in Amityville, and the sound coming off the stage was intricate, charismatic, dynamic and in a few time signatures that I wasn't quite putting together. In short, Time King immediately impresses. I had to get in gig mode quick.
They happen to sound just as good on their self-produced debut LP Suprœ, due out next month. The band (singer Kalvin Rodriguez, guitarists Brandon Dove and Shayne Plunkett, drummer Matthew Nazario and bassist/engineer/mixer James Meslin) has released a live version of lead single "Take Cover" as a good Time King primer:
The lineage of Islanders past is surely there: the instrumental and vocal acrobatics call to mind Lucy Gray-era Envy on the Coast and a healthy dose of Glassjaw's Daryl Palumbo; the band's fluidity, however, is more reminiscent of Circa Survive jamming with Animals as Leaders - the odd time feels mostly natural and never forced. Although this high energy prog-indie was popular a decade ago with bands like Seattle's Gatsbys American Dream and Boston's The Receiving End of Sirens, smiles abound in the above video and it's obvious that these guys are having fun making tunes for the muso set.
The quintet certainly packs a lot of ideas into each song on Suprœ, and while the songwriting sometimes gets buried under technical prowess, this music isn't necessarily concerned with the omnipotent Hook so coveted in today's marketplace. The band instead takes a similar approach to progressive metal maestros Periphery, whose guitarist Mark Holcomb recently told Rolling Stone, "Our listeners are going to notice our mistakes... they're music nerds. We have to play every show like it's a freaking recital. I had hoped to get up there and play three chords and pay only half attention to what we're doing, but we really can't anymore."
For every audience member waiting to air drum on the downbeat after the measure of 5/4 after the preceding measure of 3/4, or trade power chords for something jazzier, Time King is your band. Catch them March 14th in Brooklyn, or if you want to go full circle, the 21st in Amityville.