By: Spencer Kilpatrick
“Bong Kitty’s latest album is a triumph in every way.
A portrait of a band unafraid to grow, learn, and take risks,”
Since the release of their first EP in 2015, Bong Kitty have carved out a devout following in San Francisco and abroad with their up-tempo, garage-surf energy. Their latest release, “Trees Sway”, is the most fully-fledged take on their sound yet, a dynamic album braced by Nagel’s autobiographical songwriting and a band eager to experiment with a countrified garage-rock sound all their own.
While songs “Naked By Nine” and “Edge Of The Bed” retain the band’s rock and roll proclivities, “New Cloud” and “What’s He Selling” offer a distinct shift that showcase singer/songwriter/guitarist Kaitlyn Rose Nagel’s abilities as a poised vocalist and pointed lyricist.
In fact, it’s the album’s forays into country and pop-chorus catchiness that make it such an intriguing listen beginning to end.
On the standout track “Edge of the Bed” Nagel sings “When I wanna stay, you always wanna leave//when I wanna leave, you always wanna go” and while the sentiment may seem simple, that’s one of the album’s strong suits; to make something as complex as a relationship with an inconsistent partner into a hyper-singable hook.
Nagel returns to the theme again on “Take Me Home” and again on “Waiting (For a Day When I’m Wrong About Everything)” where she sings “I know I can’t pretend and I know I can’t depend on you”. The recurring subject matter unifies the release and welds it into a cohesive project when it very easily could have been a collection of fun-loving garage-rock songs.
With Nagel at the forefront, Bong Kitty is anchored by the steadfast playing of bassist Shawn Wyman, drummer Nathaniel Bilbrey, and guitarist Nate Harris, three longtime veterans of the Bay Area music scene whose chemistry, and understanding of the material is apparent regardless of the genre at hand.
The band especially shines on the swaggering “Hudson”, a freewheeling account of summer love on the east coast.
Bong Kitty’s latest album is a triumph in every way. A portrait of a band unafraid to grow, learn, and take risks, “Trees Sway” is at once hard-driving, introspective, and fun as fuck to listen to.