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POP MUSIC REVIEW

Songs that are urgent, tuneful and raw; not so simple, Kid

The London-based artist keeps it real as he plays his postmodern computerized folk.

June 02, 2004|Steve Appleford | Special to The Times

Simple Kid is a humble name for a powerful young artist. The Irish-born, London-based singer-songwriter arrived at Spaceland on Monday for a quick set of postmodern computerized folk that landed him somewhere between Beck and David Lowery of Cracker, but with a voice of his own.

Kid was accompanied by a pair of scruffy guys in trucker hats, helping keep things loose and proudly close to the edge. Drawing from Kid's upcoming album, "Simple Kid 1," the 45-minute set was all twang and synthetic beats and the wailing of three guys sitting with acoustic guitars, a banjo and a laptop. But there was urgent, tuneful pop beneath the raw delivery.

"Staring at the Sun" was rough-hewn and forward-thinking, a bohemian anthem for the Computer Age, as Kid sang, "Now don't go selling your soul!"

"Drugs" began with Kid hunched over his guitar, strumming into the microphone and sounding for a moment like '70s glam-rock, before drifting into the hard beats of a techno rhythm.

If the new album is a tightly controlled document of Kid's musical worldview, onstage he let the raw edges show, with unintentional feedback, or stopping between songs to adjust and readjust the drum machine one more time. "I usually know we got the right speed when the ladies get bootylicious," he joked. The informality played into the loose good humor of songs that took a sometimes dark and bittersweet view of the world, taking the lyrics of "The Average Man" directly from tabloid statistics and explaining that "Supertramps and Superstars" was inspired by a "7-foot transvestite named Penelope."

Musically, he sometimes resorted to some affecting moments of straight-ahead folk rock a la Bob Dylan or Neil Young, but soon enough he was on another tangent back to the postmodern edge.

*

Simple Kid

Where: The Troubadour, 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood

When: Today, 8 p.m.

Price: $12

Contact: (310) 276-6168

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