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Friday, March 10, 2006

LISTENING POST

LIVE

Kings of Convenience


In 2001, when Kings of Convenience's first album was released (the near-perfect "Quiet is the New Loud"), it was almost an antidote to the humorless introspection of their contemporaries: the teen angst of Dashboard Confessional, the poetic depression of Elliot Smith, and politely existential Britpop groups like Travis.

Norway's KoC make coffee-house music. Not the emotionally or politically "revolutionary" stuff often associated with cafe society; rather music to literally complement a coffee -- relaxing, hopeful and wry.

In retrospect, their hopefulness, intelligence and gentle humor connects them to the current disorganized folk movement; Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom have a similar disposition and have also found a wider (and dedicated) audience.

From the classic pop canon, KoC have a resemblance to Simon and Garfunkel. Erland Oye and Eirik Glambek Boe's precise harmonization and melodies sung over finger-picked acoustic guitars recall the Sunday afternoon nap in S&G's "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright," while lyrically, KoC's songs are full of the ironic anomie of S&G's "The Dangling Conversation." But they are no mere tribute; few are capable of producing such winsome folk and instantly hummable melodies.

Their two Japan shows will be just the two of them with acoustic guitars and piano; no accompanying band and no hint of Oye's electronic side. There is also no new album to promote (their last was 2004's "Riot on an Empty Street"); it will just be two masters in a form they do best.

Kings of Convenience: March 10, 7 p.m. at Shinsaibashi Club Quattro, Osaka, [(06) 6281 8181] and March 12, 7 p.m. at Shibuya Club Quattro, Tokyo [(03) 3477 8750]. All shows 5,500 yen in advance.


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