It’s no doubt that being young nowadays is a bit of a slog. It’s never exactly been an easy time, but it’s been particularly difficult these last few years for young people just trying to find their way. Some of these harsh realities have seeped their way into Kids That Fly’s latest collection of songs, their Tracks of the High Line EP released in December. The EP is composed of songs written at various times throughout the global pandemic, and within that space and time, being in your 20s and trying to figure out how to navigate forward. With life, decisions, and relationships, this is a hard enough time, and it’s something that has found its way into the Connecticut band’s songwriting for this latest release, the follow-up to their 2020 EP Between the Lines.
Musically, Tracks of the High Line emphasizes how much Kids That Fly (singer and guitarist Nick Smeriglio, guitarist and synths Blake Henry, bassist and singer Braden Frandino, and drummer and singer Ryan Hendry) have evolved since that last EP release. The songs blend early 2000s alternative rock with Britpop influences and modern pop rock in general. What differentiates this EP from their debut is that it is an evolution and expansion of their sound, featuring different synthesizers and digital production techniques that the members have been experimenting with over the last few years. The result is an EP that has a bit of a retro-futuristic style and a very trendy sound that certainly does not sound out of place.
Joining us today for a brand new Stereo Six are the members of Kids That Fly themselves to discuss six albums that had a very significant influence on the writing and recording of Tracks of the High Line.
1. White Reaper – The World’s Greatest American Band (2017, Polyvinyl)
Nick Smeriglio: “I just love the overall energy of this album. There aren’t many good old-fashioned rock bands anymore; when I found White Reaper it made me take a step back and think about what makes good rock music. Not to be dramatic, but it gave me a newfound appreciation for music; most of the stuff coming out today is overproduced to perfection, but White Reaper is just good, raw rock n’ roll.”
2. Sam Fender – Seventeen Going Under (2021, Polydor Records)
Braden Frandino: “This album, to me, gets better every time you listen to it. The lyrics on each track are real and honest, and the music ties it all together. Sam’s music is refreshingly nostalgic, which is a sound we always aim to achieve.”
3. Hippo Campus – Landmark (2017, Grand Jury Music/Transgressive)
Whole Band: “Hippo Campus has been a core influence for all of us from the very start. The song ‘Violet’ is one of the first songs we performed together, and a lot of the guitar riffs in it, and on the rest of Hippocampus’s work, have influenced my songwriting a lot; notably in the bridge of our most popular track, ‘Kiss Her You Fool.’ Landmark is a songwriting and production masterpiece all around; we’ve all listened to it an uncountable amount of times.”
4. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep for You Are So Beautiful yet So Unaware of It (2016, Dirty Hit/Polydor)
Blake Henry: “This album has been very influential on us, especially when first starting to create new songs. Most of the demos that I created in the early stage were heavily inspired by The 1975, which were then, in turn, made into our songs. The staccato guitar riffs and poppy synth melodies can be heard in some of our music out now, and a lot of our unreleased tracks too.”
5. The Killers – Hot Fuss (2004, Island Records)
Smeriglio: “Hot Fuss has been one of my favourite albums for a long time; it had five of my top ten songs from my 2020 Apple Music rewind. I’m a firm believer that, though overplayed, ‘Mr. Brightside’ might be the greatest song ever written. I think it’s the perfect blend of rock and alternative and the sad lyrics over the driving beat gives it an unmatched energy. I just think it’s cool that you can play the song at a rock concert, in your bedroom or at a club, and it would make sense in all of those settings.”
Highlight Track: “Mr. Brightside”
6. The Black Keys – Thickfreakness (2003, Fat Possum)
Smeriglio: “Thickfreakness doesn’t match our style that much at all, although I’d really like it to. It was the first album that I remember listening to front to back, and it sparked my love for both The Black Keys (my first favourite band) and blues rock in general. The Black Keys just seem like cool dudes, too; I’ve always loved that about them.”