November 27, 2011

Artist Feature: The Summer Knights

In recent weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of spending some time with Luke DeWilde and Chuckles O’Neill, the magicians behind San Francisco-based alternative act The Summer Knights. The duo have two releases to date, 2010’s Quest for California and this year’s Kairos EP. Shamelessly inspired by teenage heroes Blink 182 and Nirvana, DeWilde and O’Neill often channel the alternative punk vibe. However, TSK have a few more tricks up their sleeves than their punk role models, as Quest for California features even a Death Cab for Cutie Cover. While the band’s strengths are many, they are young and their work is not without its flaws.

We’ll start with the Summer in a Shoebox, the first song off Quest to California, The Summer Knight’s only full-length release to date. The opening track shows off the many strengths of the duo: aggressive songwriting, catchy guitar riffs, and great drumming. DeWilde dives right in to the album’s opener, Summer in a Shoebox, with one of the strongest guitar lines of the album. He never looks back. The Summer Knights turn up their amps all the way and keep them there. Fellow high-power tracks Seventy Five and You’d Think I’ve Changed are highlights of the LP. O’Neill is a constant presence on the drums, frequently adding some much needed depth to the band's sound sound.

However, Summer in a Shoebox is also the perfect platform to discuss the band’s weaknesses: thelack of a middle range end and limited vocal
explorations. Although DeWilde loves to noodle (and often crafts some great hooks) in the expansive gap between his mid-range vocals and O’Neill’s drumming, his guitar alone is sometimes not enough to fill the void. The Summer Knights are occasionally in need of a middle range. There’s one last thing. DeWilde’s presence at the mic is begging for some flavor.The group’s well-written songs are craving some harmonies, something that DeWilde, no matter how dynamic his performance in front of the mic may be, cannot provide for himself.

However, it is important to remember the big picture. DeWilde and O’Neill are both still youngsters on the music scene, and the amount of growth that we can see already is promising. These guys will do nothing but improve. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on these two.


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