Music Monday: The Blue King Krule

As autumn swiftly approaches, so does the need for a new playlist to accompany the longer nights, chilly weather and school blues. This artist, although wonderful for year long listening, is particularly superior for listening to in the darker months. His sound is versatile but especially superb in situations in which Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love” would not be appropriate (i.e. pining over a lost love, late night drives, study sesh’s at the library, de-stress crying sesh’s, etc.)

Although he’s been recording music since the age of 11, now 22, many have not heard of King Krule. Archy Marshall is his real name and he hails from the south of London, as evidenced by his burly accent. His tall lean frame, shallow cheeks and mop of red dusty hair seem to contradict the appearance one would pair with his baritone vocals. His name is heavily inspired by Elvis’s King Creole, and his work has several distinctive characteristics: deep swarthy vocals accompanied with heavy lead guitar and jazzy rhythms. Even though his music is still evolving, many place his sound in genres like rock, punk-jazz, new wave, bohemian-punk and blue wave. The focus of his lyrics is always sober narratives on lost love, disillusionment and all the struggles that encompass growing into a young adult.

As he built his rapport, he kept his genius hidden under the wraps of numerous alias, such as djjdsports, Edgar the Beatmaker and Zoo Kid. To fully experience the growth of his raw talent, I suggest listening to them all.

Here are a list of some suggested tracks (on SoundCloud) to give an ear to:

“Yuk jamie isaacs and the lank slacks” by djjdsports

“Feotus” by Edgar the Beatmaker

“Ocean Bed” by Zoo Kid

“Watch Over Me” by Zoo Kid (& Rago)

“You Took Your Time (feat. King Krule)” by Mount Kimbie

“Little Wild” by King Krule

King Krule is one of few artists who shine well on stage, and better yet, sound recognizable without the assistance of auto-tune. His unique stage presence is characterized by his usual fancy dress of a printed button-up under an ill-fitting sports coat. In the presence of his bandmates, he slowly recites his lyrics into the microphone adding a slow drawl for effect. His performance on David Letterman for example, a live version of “Easy Easy,” sounds far more gritty and hoarse than the studio recording.

Likewise his performance of “The Noose of Jah City” at Pitchfork, where his vocals are more rugged and keep in time with the added drum set, gives the slow song a more head-boppin’ feel. Lastly, his live performance in studio at WFUV Public radio was a lovely isolated version of “Octopus” with just his partially ad-libbed vocals and his synthesizer keyboard. His live performances not only display his vocal talent but also his expertise on a guitar. Strangely enough, he has never had formal lessons, describing in multiple interviews that he learned by ear and through imitation. He prefers an electric guitar rather than the more popular acoustic, giving him an unique sound.

Here are three of his many live performances that I consider truly magnificent:

“Easy Easy” King Krule on David Letterman (2013)

“The Noose of the City” King Krule at Pitchfork Music Festival (2012)

“Octopus” King Krule live at WFUV (2013)

If you benefit with added visuals, he has produced some stellar videos to go with his collection of tracks. A few in particular that I enjoy are:

“Rock Bottom (Official Video)” King Krule (2012)

“Out Getting Ribs” Zoo Kid/ King Krule (2010)

“Baby Blue” King Krule / Pitchfork Take Away Show (2012)

“Watch Over Me” Zoo Kid (& Rago) (2012)

As of now we have only been blessed with one incredible King Krule studio album, titled 6 Feet Beneath the Moon, which is on Spotify. While he did release the album, A New Place 2 Drown, it was released under his actual name, Archy Marshall, and connected to the book and film he produced with his brother Jack. If at all interested, the film trailer is on YouTube, the book is up for purchase on their website and you can stream the album for free on Spotify. In an interview earlier this year with NPR, Archy said that he wanted to “separate (A New Place 2 Drown) from King Krule,” explaining that his next album is “similar to the (6 Feet Beneath the Moon), the stuff I do on a day to day basis.”

While we wait for his second album to drop, this collection of songs and videos should comfortably pave the way through the upcoming autumn and winter season of 2k16.