There are many words to describe the Sacramento alternative outfit K Sera. None of them are “simple.” Even with the bands first Cantos EP, you could tell that they weren’t aiming right down the middle. No, with each K Sera song to come out, you could tell that they were aiming for the stars with every note they play. And with their debut full length Collisions and Near Misses, K Sera manage to and succeeds into landing in a new musical galaxy.
The album opens with two title tracks, “Collisions” and “Near Misses.” The former sounds closest to a parlor piano song, where singer Mike Caswell wraps a beautiful croon from start to finish – really sets the mood for the rest of the album. The latter is a fantastic single, filled to the brim with meticulously played instrumentation and another perfect showcase for Caswell to show off his enormous range. “True Enough To Be Interesting” has a jazzy rock feel that features some of the nastiest instrumentation on the entire album (in the best way possible of course). “Hollow Grounds Of London,” which clocks in as the longest song of the album, feels rather tense and unnerving, showing a kind of paranoia which keeps climbing throughout the length of the song. And then there’s the first single to come off the album “Dream, Like I Do.” I was a little put off by the initial speed of the track, as the band felt too sporadic. However, with more listenings and the catchiness of that effect heavy chorus (which I can only liken to a robot drowning), “Dream” came off as one of the best paced songs of this album.
If you’ve listened to any of K Sera’s previous outings, you can tell that they made the best out of their lower production costs. On Collisions And Near Misses, however, you get an estravagently produced album by one of the best artists today; The Dear Hunter’s Casey Crescenzo. K Sera has always been known to add a dash of theatrics to their music wherever they can, giving their music that much more of an epic feel. Casey obviously knows that (if you want to talk about theatrics and music, just listen to the man’s discography), and really helps the band showcase that whenever it needs it. The structure of “True Enough To Be Interesting” and the closer “The Economist” are incredibly interesting and captivating. As an older listener, I can’t think of any other producer that can make moments and songs more significant than Crescenzo did with this album. The sheen and visual ascetic that the album puts you in (at least it put me in) was a place that The Cantos EPs couldn’t even touch.
Even without Casey behind the boards, you can definitely detect a musical evolution for the quartet. From each release going back to the original Cantos EP, you can detect improved instrumentation from each project, and Collisions is no exception. The piano playing, which I originally found lacking true substance, comes forward in a big way on this album. Songs like the opener and “St. Peter (Better Than Yours)” really shows how much pianist David Christensen has grown in the past couple of years. Honestly, there are moments all over this album that shows the brutal musicality this band has to offer; there is no weak link that drags this album down. Each member holds their own, and with their powers combined makes for one of the most enjoyable and original listens 2013 is going to offer.
Progressive yet melodic, organic and original, Collisions and Near Misses hits every musical feeling one person can have in the span of ten songs. No one song overstays its welcome, yet they all have the ability to captivate from start to finish. How this album holds up throughout the year, who knows. All I know is that this is a fantastic way to start out 2013, and sets the bar incredibly high for anyone else in this genre. I’ve always known that K Sera has all the talent in the world to be the next great band – Collisions And Near Misses proves it.
Final Grade: A
Go Download: The Entire Album
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