feature: rock out to ‘salutation,’ the new genre-hopping ep from kayla starr. #soundcheck

March 7, 2014

Genre specialization has lately reached absurd heights. Arguments about whether something counts as post-punk or dance-punk or the finer points of metalcore clutter every inch of the internet. (I admit, I’ve taken part in my share…) So it makes sense that the new trend is wild genre mashups. There’s hardly a person alive who only listens to one genre of music (and trust me, you don’t want to sit next to that person at a party.) One of the more adventurous records on that front is the debut EP from SoCal singer Kayla Starr.

By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor


Opening with a thundering “Salutation” that jitters with a beat on loan from The Mars Volta. “Azimuth” follows and shakes the ground with prog nods and alt-metal riffs. Kayla Starr’s voice explodes from a haunting whisper in the chorus, while the band explodes behind her. The song feels like it might come apart at the seams at any point, and the only thing holding it together is Kayla’s sheer force of will. “Horse Latitudes” drops down and lets the singer show some vulnerability. The jagged guitars are replaced by haunting trip-hop synths.


The tension between her bombast and vulnerability plays out best in the explosive “Finish Line.” Dub, chillwave, RnB all burble in the verses teasing an epic rockout that lasts only a few seconds. What Kayla Starr does brilliantly is not seamlessly blend disparate genres. Instead, she plays with the tension created where they don’t fit. Her commanding voice and killer hooks tie it all together in something cohesive, but no less new and compelling.

Photo above by Gil Riego