Golden Suits - 'Kubla Khan'
What You Should Know
- Golden Suits is 1/2 of Department of Eagles (his project with Dan Rosen of Grizzly Bear)
- Editorial support for Golden Suits: Pitchfork, Stereogum, NME, American Songwriter, Spotify & more
- Album single "Gold Feeling" in rotation on Sirius XMU
- Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney influences.
- Good for fans of Lord Huron, Local Natives, Monsters of Men, Kurt Vile
- Written in a freewheeling year following a long-term breakup, with all the highs and lows that go along.
- Kubla Khan is much more up-tempo and "fun" than the last Golden Suits album. Fred Nicolaus has described this as the "sound of a meticulous, bookish songwriter loosening up and letting the joy in."
- All songs recorded in an old church in Brooklyn, with the sounds of the neighborhood leaking onto the recordings.
- "Gold Feeling" video (above) directed by Sean Pecknold, known music video director and brother to Fleet Foxes' Robin Pecknold.
- Team includes Fort Williams (management), Grandstand (press), Bankrobber (publishing), Hit City U.S.A. (label)
Golden Suits' Kubla Khan is the sound of a meticulous, bookish songwriter loosening up and letting the joy in.
Fred Nicolaus — co-founder of the band Department of Eagles and main force behind Golden Suits — has mostly been known for contemplative, folk-inflected music. Heavy on nostalgia and literary allusion, his first solo album was centered around a breakup and an obsession with a book of short stories by John Cheever. Some of that vibe remains (Kubla Khan's title track is a knotty reference to a classic poem) but this album is a trip into more open-hearted territory: it's not about finessing a chord voicing anymore, it's about taking a risk on a big chorus. There's romance and dancing; '80s Bruce Springsteen is involved.
Written in a freewheeling year following the dissolution of a long-term relationship, the material addresses the woozy highs and lows of a second adolescence spent in the bars, parks and apartments of New York. The songs were recorded with that spirit in mind — the ballads are maxed-out and dreamy, the ragers are angry, and the upbeat songs are unabashedly joyous. Musically, Nicolaus was influenced by a few classic touchstones (Born in the USA, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney's Ram), but mainly the songs were made with a kitchen sink-ish "if it feels good, let's do it" mentality, whether that's Van Halen-style guitar tapping, piano slides, or a German prose poem read by Nicolaus' father in the bridge of a song.
Produced by Fraser McCulloch, Kubla Khan was recorded in an enormous, drafty church in Brooklyn, with Nicolaus playing most instruments himself (David Christian, who plays with Hospitality, Airwaves and Sam Cohen, filled in on drums). It took about a year to finish — you can hear heat pipes hissing in the background if the song was recorded in the winter, or children playing in a park across the street for the summer tunes. The sessions loosely followed the progression of Golden Suits' style: starting with the loping, moody "Useless," they ended with sparkling pop indulgence "Gold Feeling," written and recorded in the final week of recording, and acting as a marker of the ground Nicolaus has covered: from sepia-tinted folk mannerism to a bigger, colorful sound.
"Takes the anthemic nerve of Arcade Fire and gives it a much needed back massage by the ocean." - Stereogum
"Sounds like the musical equivalent of the shy librarian ripping off his or her glasses and dancing on the counter." - WNYC
"[A] lilting folk-pop record, deliberate as they come, swimming in sumptuous, sunlit arrangements." - Pitchfork
"Crunching rhythms, subtle brass, and tunes as intoxicating as a blood transfusion from Pete Doherty combine as he tells the tale of a disastrous year full of rat infestations, romantic strife and weight loss. Here's its golden lining." - NME
"The warm, clean production is a well-deserved spotlight for Nicolaus' voice, which compares favorably to Doug Martsch and Ben Gibbard without imitating either." - American Songwriter
"...a driving, familiar collection of songs that feels as refreshing as it does nostalgic. The melodies and steady guitars are infectious, producing a sense of ease that can only come from a well-crafted song." -
"The New York-based solo artist takes us back in time to relive a school dance." — Nowness ("Gold Feeling" video)
- 60,000 monthly listeners on Spotify
- "Gold Feeling" at 193,279 streams
- "Is It Wrong" at 147,949 streams
- Spotify support: "Rockin' Vibes," "undercurrents," "Feelgood Indie," (Spotify Deutschland) "Le morceau du jour" (Spotify France), "Sunny" (Spotify France) and more playlists.
- Apple Music support: Album release featured on Main, Indie, Alternative pages on Apple Music and iTunes.
- Early support from Sirius XMU, WNYC
10/4 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
10/5 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
10/7 - New York, NY - Mercury Lounge
10/8 - Boston, MA - Cafe 939
10/10 - Toronto, Canada - The Drake
10/11 - Chicago, IL - Schubas
11/14 - Los Angeles, CA - Resident
11/15 - San Francisco, CA - Swedish American Hall
11/17 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar
11/18 - Seattle, WA - Barboza