Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “Yellow Wings” by Keepaway from the 2010 album Baby Style on Lefse Records.
This is a story of how a couple of foursquare nemeses triumphed over their differences and formed a band. There may be a little more to the story but isn’t it a great start? Mike Burakoff, today an electronics and synthesizer extraordinaire, and Nick Nauman grew up together in Arlington, Massachusetts. Aside from the popular playground game, the two became friends. With Nauman on guitar, Burakoff working the electronics, and Frank Lyon on drums, Keepaway debuts with the EP Babystyle, which was reportedly inspired by an outfit which featured extremely tight baby blue trousers and good old fashioned teasing. Formerly named “In,” the trio wisely changed the name to be a little more recognizable. A Google search of the word “In” results in over 12 billion results. But the last straw was the day they were left off a bill to a local show because those two letters got lost in the shuffle.
There is a strong Animal Collective presence on the most prominent song on the Babystyle EP, “Yellow Wings” you just can’t deny it. However the influences come from many different frames of reference. Lyon, for example, cites video games as his first encounter with music, the “rhythm and efficiency” of gameplay became the inspiration to his rhythm and sampling techniques. As a matter of fact, all three members’ first encounters with music were rooted in childhood experiences.
“Yellow Wings” is made up of infectious syncopated beats and vocals that roll of of said beats. The lyrics are carefree and relatable enough to hook you in, but soon get buried by the experimental noise just enough to let your own carefree imagination take hold. Lyon, Burakoff, and Nauman contribute to the vocals and often harmonize with each other in strange ways. The harmonies are dissonant yet attractive; the musicianship playful but held tight. Keepaway is a band to watch, and as they say on their MySpace page they’ll be “even better in a month.” I can’t wait.
The last opportunity to catch them on this side of the Mississippi was at a notable performance along with tongue-in-cheek hip hoppers Das Racist. Currently, their touring schedule seems to remain close to their NY area home for the moment.
The video for “Yellow Wings” is basically set to a magic show — catering to the carefree sense of wonder that Keepaway’s music and Babystyle tends to evoke. Enjoy!