Listening to Khruangbin’s music is a visceral, almost physical experience. It’s lying half naked in bed, a summer breeze floating through the open window, smoke from a joint curling around your lover’s fingers; it’s driving down a flat, open road, the feeling of infinite possibility rising up in your chest like mountains on the horizon; it’s dancing with eyes closed in a candlelit bar, the booze in your blood making you wiggle and groove like no one is watching. Their music has warmth; it has a presence that greets you like a slow, familiar smile.
Khruangbin is a formidable trio that hails from Texas; the band consists of Laura Lee who is a badass woman on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums. Their live chemistry, and the way they support each other with their instruments creates a beautiful, entrancing sound that envelops the stage and the audience in feel-good vibes.
The band’s newest album, Con Todo El Mundo, comes two years after their first release, The Universe Smiles Upon You. The new album draws inspiration from both soul and funk, classic dub, psychedelic rock, as well as world music. They are influenced by sounds from Southeast Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East, and they weave these cultures together into seamless, catchy beats.
The album’s first song eases you in slowly with the band’s familiar baseline and spacey synth; it’s sensual and playful. Most of the album is purely instrumental, but the band uses small snippets of vocals and talking to accentuate the nostalgia in certain songs, which appears to be a throwback to 1960s and 1970s psychedelic and funk jams.
The first song Como Me Quieres and the fifth song Como Te Quieres seem to be having conversation. In fact, the whole album could be a lifetime of conversations, each song a poignant moment of conflict or understanding in an emotional relationship; the band is that good at creating tangible atmosphere and nostalgia with their music. From the more dreamy, mellow songs like Come Me Quieres, A Hymn, and August 10, to the punchier, funk and disco tracks like Lady and Man and Evan Finds the Third Room and Maria Tambien, each song emotes in a unique way that paints a picture in your mind. Khruangbin’s music is descriptive without words, which is magical.
The second song Lady and Man has a specific guitar riff that is quite to place, but is a nod to incredible sounds of Parliament Funkadelic. The band gracefully acknowledges its influences and takes classic sounds to a modern level. It’s impressive when musicians use older sounds and play with, transforming them into something fresh. Khruangbin is exceptional at doing just that, and it’s difficult to name many other bands experimenting with old and new sounds in quite the same way.
Listen to Con Todo El Mundo via spotify
Official video for Friday Morning
Official video for Maria También