Having only been around the Newark DE scene for a little under a year on and off, I can say that nearly any weekend I was in town for a show it seemed like Khaki Cuffs was on the bill. They released their self-titled album in April of this year and its received quite a bit of praise.
The first track of the album, “i used to steal from grocery stores a lot as a kid”, displays interesting phased out effects along with screams that leave little power left to be given. Brody pushed their vocal cords to the max. It’s an interesting way to start the album off, coming in at just under a minute, and with an abrupt ending transition.
In “cool cat saves the kids”, mathy guitar with lots of pull offs and hammer ons pushes the high energy and classic early 2000s emo sound – along with strong pounding drums from Sam Greaves (also from Naff who I managed to see a fantastic secret reunion show of at the temple). The drumming is really impactful as it seems to be almost always on speed with guitar. then provide a base for the lyrics that discuss the simple nostalgic times in high school.
“caffeine cops” illustrates the varying singing Khaki Cuffs represents in so many different areas and time periods of emo. The lyrics include: “I’m not afraid to die but I must say I’m having a pretty good time” and lines that reference basement shows at Liv’s place (The Temple) basement shows at Brenna’s (La Pata Fria).
My biggest issue in trying to get into Khaki Cuffs more is that the screams tend to drift slightly off pitch, which can sometimes detract from the well cut instrumentals. I’d really like to see the band try to achieve different production styles, or even release a newer live ep to show just how dimensional they can be. The self-titled album to me has vocals that are a little too polished for their emotional depth, and it takes away some of the realness. Bands in this style tend to lean towards more modern production styles, clean vocals, a shiny lead guitar in the forefront, and a sometimes completely buried bassline. I would love to see Khaki Cuffs shine even more with some exploration into influences from some classic emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate, Rites of Spring, or Jawbreaker.
Khaki Cuffs self-titled album shows a lot of growth as band. The emotional anguish vocals match, and the screams blend very well with the midwest emo influenced instrumentation. They maintain a great energy for dancing and moshing which pairs well with the packed live shows they typically play. Khaki cuffs has made a very unique sound for themselves, and its no question as to why they’ve gained the popularity they have in much more than just the surrounding Newark area.