We was fooled by Kaleo. Set up the way a pool shark tones it down before mercilessly blindsiding you with mad skills. When the four-piece Icelandic band snuck into the U.S. consciousness late in 2014 with “All the Pretty Girls,” a gentle acoustic lament on romantic loneliness, the set-up was under way.
In 2015, “Way down We Go” took the moodiness and intensity up a notch from “All the Pretty Girls” so we probably should have seen the surprise coming. And then Kaleo relocated to the musical hotbed of Austin and started playing concerts in America, and Bam! That’s when we knew we’d been had. This unknown from a faraway land, this Kaleo, was a force so much more epic than anticipated. We were slapped upside the head by this masterfully performed explosion of blues and rock and twin guitar attacks and sheer mass of sound, the heavy dark side balanced with occasional whimsy and whispery softness.
So yeah, we was fooled by Kaleo. Snookered. Lured right into their trap. And it was transcendent.
Kaleo—it’s Hawaiian for the voice or the sound—was started by three friends from grade school in Mosfellsbaer, a small town in southwest Iceland commonly known as “the green town.” Singer/guitarist JJ Juliusson, drummer David Antonsson Crivello, and bassist Danny Jones were 17 at the time, and after a few years of gigging in nearby Reykjavik they added guitarist Rubin Pollock in 2012.
By early 2013 they were getting a little love from radio and the press back home, and by the end of that year they’d had a #1 single and signed to the nation’s largest record label. Before you could say Bob is Bob spelled backwards, they’d soared to phenomenon status in their homeland, propelled by five #1 singles. It was time for America.
Kaleo expects to have their still-in-progress first US full-length release out later in 2016, to join the All the Pretty Girls EP and a pair of singles already available in the states. On it, Kaleo will exhibit the depth and chops on display in the disparate styles of songs like the probably-recorded-at-the-crossroads guitar workout “No Good” (from the HBO series Vinyl) and the frolicking, California-centric “Automobile,” which would just kill as an otherworldly singalong with Kaleo, Louis Armstrong, Roger Miller, and Lou Rawls.
Let the anticipation begin.