For the past six years four brothers from Chicago have been busy using their love of pop music to build a mini-empire under the name The Hudson Branch. They’ve collaborated with NPR’s popular and innovative podcast Radiolab, shared the stage with English new wave pioneers New Order, and performed experimental live shows alongside media giants Google and Disney. They’ve also recorded and produced three ambitious albums, leading The Chicago Sun-Times to declare them “a polished quintet, building on roots in sensitive folk-rock (think: Nick Drake), Genteel early ‘60s pop (echoes of Burt Bacharach) and polite indie-rock (a la the Sea and Cake.)”
For all these accolades, the brothers Cobey & Corey Bienert and Matthew & Jacob Boll actually grew up as suburban Christian kids who discovered their musical talents while singing in church choirs, playing in bands and acting in theater groups. Yet as their teens faded into their twenties, doubts crept in. Despite their changing beliefs they continued to chase after the experience they loved about connecting with a room full of people singing music together. “What started with this high we’d get while performing music on a church stage,” explained singer Cobey Bienert, “shifted into the freedom of expression we found in leaving that stage for something all our own.”
In the midst of this deeply personal evolution, they stumbled on a sound that reflected their willingness to evolve. A sound that includes the soul of 1960’s pop music, the experimentation of 1980’s electronic music and the restless energy of contemporary radio. While hints of this sound can be heard emerging along the edges of their previous albums, the band’s latest work Kina Ze Swah (pronounced: ken-äh-zAy-swäh) is bolder, more self-confident, more daring. You can hear the brothers drawing on their lives spent singing and playing together. There is a drama in the expansive builds and a relief in the moments of minimalism that reveal a band demanding your attention.
Kina Ze Swah is a kaleidoscope of layered sounds and emotions. It bounces between outlandish and familiar, faith and disbelief, a yearning to be heard and a willingness to just have a great time. It stands strong as a rare example of earnest pop music. For Kina Ze Swah they enlisted the help of their longtime collaborator, producer and engineer Neil Strauch (Iron And Wine, Andrew Bird). The album was recorded at several locations around Chicago including Minbal Studios, James Bond’s Attic, and Chicago Recording Company.