Koji – Crooked In My Mind
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Record Label: Run For Cover
Despite only releasing a handful of EPs, splits, and 7” over the course of the last few years, Koji has already become an artist respected in a scene filled with post-hardcore and punk acts like La Dispute and Into It. Over It. by joining forces with it while never compromising his sound, as Koji has left his impression on many through either his music, socially-conscious worldview, or both.
The punk-rock activist armed with only an acoustic guitar is finally releasing its debut full-length via Run For Cover. Backed by a fantastic array of musicians and produced by Will Yip, Crooked In My Mind is Koji at his best – emphatic acoustic numbers paced by his raspy, intense vocals. Even though his debut LP is only 9 songs long, it doesn’t take long (really it takes about 45 seconds into opening track “Chasing A Ghost”) to realize the impact this album will have on listeners.
The aforementioned opener is a song Koji has been playing variations of live for a while, so hearing it in its completed form is thrilling and sets the tone for the entire album. “The Near and Far” is fleshed out by Matt Warner (Balance and Composure) and Brad Vander Lugt (La Dispute) and is the first instance of how dark Crooked In My Mind can get at times. The urgent “Spinning Silent” features some sneaky-good guitar work as Koji urges you to get on with life despite the difficulties it presents at times.
In fact, Koji’s lyrics take numerous stands against some of the more talked-about issues in the world today. The biting “In The Line” tackles social constructs and how society decides what’s acceptable or not, while the folky “Creeping” finds Koji dealing with bullying and directing that rage into something more productive. So yeah, things can get shitty sometimes and Koji acknowledges that, but he also includes that silver lining and tries to draw something positive from that adversity.
“Distance/Divide” deals with that adversity upfront, as that song along with “Pang and Flash” are the darkest songs in Koji’s discography. They're also his most adventurous songs musically. The former is a bluesy track in which Koji bares his soul in discussing some of his recent defeats, while the album’s name shows up on the latter – a track full of quiet flourishes that slowly fester and build into a cathartic release of emotion. But as I mentioned earlier, Koji finds redemption in the bleakest of moments, as “What You Leave Behind” brings Crooked In My Mind full circle with moments of quiet self-reflection before erupting into an euphoric crescendo paced by simmering strings & Vander Lugt’s uplifting approach behind the kit.
Leading up to this release, we all had ideas of what Koji's debut full-length would sound like - and to some extent, we were right on the money, as a lot of Koji's trademark musicianship shows up throughout the nine tracks. But he extends and excels past his previous work with Crooked In My Mind, as Koji's brutally honest and authenticity makes him one of the most engaging and exciting songwriters of today. The constant battles and contrasts that litter the LP - the yin and the yang - will have listeners exploring Koji's Mind constantly in 2013.
got me excited.. If it comes to extra musicians that helped in the studio, were there some more people involved than Matt Warner and Brad Vander Lugt?
Ned from Title Fight re-worked some bass stuff on a few tracks as well I believe. Other musicians included Ron Gilmore who plays keys for Lauryn Hill, J. Cole and Drake’s live bands and Colin Gorman from Gypsy played the electric guitars on the record.