Dayton musician, Nick Kizirnis, is no stranger to making cool music, and now, with the Nicky Kay Orchestra, his latest album release, “Barrier Reef“, proves he’s not stopping any time soon! Kizirnis has proven himself previously in projects such as Nicky Kay and His Fabulous Kay-Tones, The Nick Kizirnis Band, The Mulchmen and as a member of Guided by Voices‘ guitarist, Tobin Sprout’s, Eyesinweasel. Now, on “Barrier Reef”, Kizirnis teams with former Guided By Voices’ and The Breeders‘ drummer, Jim Macpherson, to create an instrumental album that is fresh, soothing, and wonderfully fun!
“Barrier Reef” is full of surprises but still fits perfectly in the instrumental surf rock genre. When I hear the term “surf rock”, my mind conjures up images of fun in the sun, dancing, and hanging out with friends. For a lot of people, I would guess the first band that comes to mind when they hear “surf rock” is the “Beach Boys”, who popularized the vocal surf pop genre in the early 60’s. The “surf rock” style always went way beyond the vocal pop styles popularized in mainstream music though, and “Barrier Reef” is a great example of everything this genre has to offer.
While “Barrier Reef” retains all the classic elements of surf rock, the album diverges from this pocket frequently to immerse the listener in a wide variety of musical experiences. The groovy riffs are plentiful and keep the album light and fun, but the organ parts on many of the tracks lend wonderfully contrasting, dirtier sounds into the mix that give the songs depth as well as help build the dynamic in all the right places. There are classic and fun, surf rock tracks like “Pixelated”, “Organ Donor”, and the title track “Barrier Reef”. Then there are the surprises like “Snake Eyes” with its dark and almost dissonant violin sections and “Absolution” with its sad and more ballad-like violin parts. The opening track, “Go Commando”, as well as “Backscratcher” emote stronger rock and roll sensibilities that are well placed at the beginning and near the end of the album.
For those listeners who are more lyric-oriented, song titles become more relevant than normal for an instrumental album like “Barrier Reef“, and the band did not forget that when they picked such apt names for their tracks. Each title seems to have been picked with a lot of care and attention to what they were trying to convey, and being able to sum up an entire song that has no lyrics into just a few words is a skill that has been put to great effect on this album.
I had a great time listening to this album and expect it to get a lot of hours on my playlist, so if you’re looking for a chill time with some great jams, check out “Barrier Reef” and grab a copy today!
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