Kicking Giant

This Being the Ballad of Kicking Giant, Halo: NYC​/​Olympia 1989-1993

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Kicking Giant were a couple of N.Y.C. art students with cool record collections and a stripped-down sound that could go from a dissonant squall to a fragile whisper instantly, with all the whiplash of emotion that implies. Neither drummer Rachel Carns nor guitarist Tae Won Yu were particularly proficient at their instruments when they began playing together, nor were they traditionally tuneful vocalists, but what they may have lacked in skill they made up for with enthusiasm and energy. With roots in riot grrrl, C-86, and classic '60s pop filtered through their arty lens, the songs the duo recorded were catchy, angsty, and tough as nails. Sometimes, like on "Weird" or "Satellite," the hooks were right out front in true indie pop fashion; sometimes you had to dig a little deeper, like on the noisier tracks when Yu's guitar fills the air with shards of sound and Carns batters her minimalist kit mercilessly. The duo were also adept at writing ballads that could break a heart with their simple power ("Cry Baby Cry," the painfully tender "If Not You") and going off the art-noise deep end in surprising ways ("Rachel's Song," "This Sex"). No matter the kind of song the duo attempted, they were able to inject them with their true feelings, natural exuberance, and indie rock intelligence. They recorded three cassettes between 1990 and 1993, both in N.Y.C. and after they moved to Olympia, and in 1993 put out a collection of tracks from them, plus some unreleased stuff, under the title This Being the Ballad of Kicking Giant, Halo: NYC/Olympia 1989-1993. It was a fine representation of what the duo had done to date, collecting their best songs and most impressive moments. It helped them gain some well-deserved notice in the indie rock community and led to a record deal with K, who put out the "She's Real" single and their first full-length, Alien I.D., in 1994. Unfortunately, the band didn't last much longer, but This Being the Ballad of Kicking Giant, Halo: NYC/Olympia 1989-1993 stands as a brilliant distillation of why that fact is a real bummer.

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