Montreal’s talent pool has deepened. Meet Key OG: a group of six musicians, led by Etienne Miousse, that create soundscapes in many genres, gravitating around rythms that are deep as they are tight. Their latest album, The Choice, begins with a clean guitar jazzing around when the band suddenly jumps in, delivering a groove that carries the song as singers Do Mi (currently rocking La Voix) and Etienne take turns at the mic. These guys can really lay into the beat; something instantly noticeable when you listen to musicians of this calliber. This is the kind of song you want to hear as you fine dine – it’s laid back and interesting.
The second track starts off as an instrumental jam which is then accompanied by spoken word prose about having the choice and having the right to remain silent. Harmonised electric guitars conjure Ratatat, followed by a banjo solo which leads to a brief auditive trip to the Middle East. This band is inventive. The songs travel and they change; they take you somewhere and bring you back. Titled “The Choice”, this tune is my favorite on the album. “Carry On” follows with intricate guitars, a quicker pace and some powerful riffs. Here, singer Do Mi really shines, harmonies and all. A tamtam jam bridges the song’s beginning to its reggae end, taking me back to summer Sundays on the mountain. If you’re a musician, you’ll love this album; riffs, riffs, riffs! And if you’re listening as a producer, you already know that the production on this album is nothing less than stellar.
An electrified blues rock guitar starts off the forth song, “Blue Bird”, while Mr. Miousse takes the lead on vocals. Singing about having to find a way, and having nothing else to say, the vocals give way to a psychedelic bridge that I would describe as joyous Nintendo on acid. The song then returns to its openning mood, closing with another expertly crafted riff. What a trip.
It’s ballad time. Bring your date to the dance floor, my friend. They busted out the lap-steel and I’m feeling great. Oozing soul and urging the listener to “walk with me, run with me” Do Mi showcases her talent as a singer and lyricist on this song named “The Sea calling me”. Want goosebumps? This one’s for you. Their next number, “Blinded by colors”, brings forth the synthesizer in all its glory. Fast riffs, slow riffs, textures galore. The guitar solo in this song attests to the musicality of Key OG.
Funk, anyone? A minute-long interlude gives the singers a break while keeping the listener engaged thanks to its interesting band-on, band-off arrangement. Speaking of, the arrangements on this album are also very well done. The instruments, melodies, effects and riffs all fit together perfectly, blending in and out of the songs to create a very wide sound stage. “Ridin’”, a pop song following the interlude, reminds me of John Mayer with its infectious upbeat energy and acoustic guitars. Catchy, harmonised electric guitars close this song, reminding me once again of Ratatat.
A total of 13 tracks are collected on this album, and though I’d like to review each one, constraints must be taken into account; I’ll end my review of The Choice with the ninth song, called “The Machine”. Starting off with a straghit-forward, overdriven blues riff, this song showcases Key OG’s ability to build up a song, adding psychedelic synth parts, harmonized guitars, solos and effects to create a world of music within each tune. The song then morphs to a drum and bass jam (courtesy of some excellent production), before ending its frenetic pace with a half time swing, while synthesizers take over with their swanky phrasing and thick distorted melodies.
To sum this up, Key OG does a fantastic job of mixing R&B, electronic music and jazz – they’re talented, creative musicians and judging by their videos online, they pull it off live too. If you like Pink Floyd, Rjd2, Ratatat and Bonobo, you’ll be happy to hear these guys.
Written by Dave Tone