Kid, You’ll Move Mountains’ Participatory Pop
Kid, You'll Move Mountains often seem torn between two eras. Their songwriting nods to the insular, folded-arms indie-rock of late-'90s Polyvinyl bands like American Football, yet they perform them with the communal, clap-along spirit of so many modern indie-pop bands. Singer/guitarist Jim Hanke, late of the cherished Milwaukee power-pop band El Oso, admits that it can be tough to find the balance between audience participation and self-parody.
"Take a band like Arcade Fire, which I think is just brilliant," Hanke says. "They would do their shows on stage, and then their encore would be out in the lobby of whatever theater they were in, so the people in the back row would now have a chance to be in the front row.
"But obviously you can't have every band in America trying to one-up each other with, 'Hey, I'm wearing pink pants-pass me around!' antics," Hanke continues. "It gets circusy. So it's a challenge to read the audience. I think that people really deserve some type of interaction if they want it, though. For a $6 or $10 show, you should send them back home with at least a few fun moments that they can remember."
On their new album, Loomings, which they release this week, Kid, You'll Move Mountains wisely eschew the quirk-overload of newer acts like Black Kids in favor of a more tempered approach closer to the Dismemberment Plan's, where songs are more apt to build to searing, emotional payoffs than colorful sing-alongs, but the door is always open for either.
Their first full-length, Loomings is also the group's first release since their debut EP, which they recorded live on WMSE two years ago. In that time, Hanke, the group's sole Milwaukee native, moved to quiet Geneva, Ill. to join his band mates Nate and Andrew Lanthrum (the rhythm section of the late-period Lookout! band Troubled Hubble), guitarist Corey Wills (ex-Inspector Owl) and co-singer Nina Jones, whose piano brightens the group's arrangements.
The band recorded the album in their home studio, which afforded them plenty of time to toy with sonics.
"To get the percussion on the song 'Volts' we stomped on the hardwood floor upstairs, just running a mic-stand cord all the way up there-we got a nice echo," Hanke says. "On 'An Open Letter to Wherever You're From,' we actually pulled a bunch of clips from YouTube and recorded the audio under the refrain. We've got a seventh grader's music class and a portion of a two-minute documentary on applause from Germany, so there might be a guy talking in German on there, then I think we put a hockey fight in there, too. To me, it's that kind of stuff that makes an album interesting, something that might not be a guitar solo or a lyric but maybe just some weird sound that you can't identify, but want to keep going back to so you can find out what it is."
Kid, You'll Move Mountains play as part of a 9:30 p.m. bill at the Cactus Club on Saturday, Feb. 21, with Elusive Parallelograms and Disguised as Birds.