Kendra McKinley is known to many for her mellow bossa nova inspired songs. Her debut album, Chestnut Street, features solo acoustic guitar and voice, sometimes trading guitar for vocal loops. It is an album for sitting at the window sill on a rainy day with a steaming cup of Earl Grey.
With her newest single, Fine as a Vine, the rain has dissipated and the sun has come out. You can trade that cup of Earl Grey for substances with a little more color. That lone acoustic guitar is joined by its fuzzy electric brother (performed by McKinley’s real-life fuzzy brother, AJ McKinley) along with swirling organs and a pounding rhythm section. The delicate vocal harmonies are now a powerhouse of tight and dizzying layers of voices.
The song kicks off with nothing to hide, a crash cymbal and a thumping melody from the bass. If the listener isn’t moving their hips from the get-go, they never will. Also, they are dead. The groove is infectious and the energy is kinetic, this is a psychedelic rock that demands a-movin’ booty.
While no space has been left for the song to grow in energy, interjections and flourishes from ethereal voices and guitars keep the tune from growing stale. Yet the most successful moments of the song come through deprivation; the band drops for the bridge, a single low melody from the acoustic guitar is all that is left to accompany McKinley’s voice. As the single line of the bridge repeats, band members join back in, slowly building up the anticipation for the moment when the band thunderously returns in full force for a final gratifying verse.
Recorded at Coast Recorders in San Francisco, Fine as a Vine will be featured on Kendra’s sophomore record which will be released later in 2015. The track was engineered by Andy Freeman along with assistant engineer Nigel Brown. The track was co-produced by Andy Freeman, Kendra McKinley, and AJ McKinley and was mastered by Piper Payne.
The band features a bay area all-star lineup:
Kendra McKinley: vocals, acoustic guitar, song, arrangement
Peter Granquist (Guy Fox): drums, vocals
Jesse Toews (Sun Hop Fat): bass
A.J McKinley (Battlehooch): electric guitar, piano, mellotron, trumpet
Alison Kane (Van Wave): vocals
Sharon Litzky: vocals
You can catch Kendra McKinley live at The Chapel on May 19th
Stream or download Fine as a Vine at: