The roots of Los Angeles indie rock group Lone Kodiak go all the way back to a Portland, Oregon, band called Emberghost (which counted Lone Kodiak singer-guitarist Dainéal Parker and bassist Daniel Alden among its members) and its rise through the post-hardcore scene there. Filled with sorrowful melodies and aching emotionality, their work was embraced by fans and earned them a trip to New York City to meet with Sony Music. During this time, however, the band’s co-singer, Sarah Jennings, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and died shortly thereafter. The band wasn’t sure whether they should or could continue without her, but they eventually met drummer Andrew Smith and decided to push on as Lone Kodiak.
Keeping the deep well of emotion while adding some Sigur Rós-esque atmospherics, the band created a new sound that builds on the foundation of their past work. Imbuing their ethereal soundscapes with an honest lyrical presence, the band finds their collective heart in the vast stretches of melody and variable tones that permeate their communal influences. Often venturing into pastoral countrysides and string-swept vistas, they formed the core ideology of Lone Kodiak from the heartache and devastation that found its way into their history. But there’s also a nostalgic sense of acceptance to the passing of time that allows them to view these events as part of their ever-shifting world and to be able to convey both the sadness and fond memories inherent to these thoughts.
On their debut single, “Calm Down” (taken from their forthcoming double EP, “Feet in the Water”), the band arranges some gorgeous strings and gossamer piano lines alongside shuffling acoustic guitar and male-female call-and-response vocals. These female vocals come from singer Alex Rhodes, and she gives the track a confidence and stability that can’t be understated. Alternating between the voices of Parker and Rhodes, the song delivers an emotional gut punch that’ll leave you blinking out into space wondering where the time went.
Speaking on collaborating with Rhodes, Parker said: “The second I heard her voice come in on ‘Astronaut’ [one of Rhodes’ singles], I knew she was the one. There is an emotionally devastating tenderness to her voice that we instantly fell in love with.”
The song embraces life and all that comes with it-the good and the bad-and accepts that sometimes you have to pick yourself up and take a few more steps on your own. It’s a compelling mix of ebullient melodies, earnest lyricism and ecstatic choruses that’ll have you singing along before you even know the words. It’s the kind of song that gets stuck in your head for days, and when it finally slips your mind, you’re sad to see it go. The work of Lone Kodiak may be rooted in some heartbreaking experiences, but “Calm Down” finds them offering some light and reassurance to those who need it the most.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.