FUFKIN Capsule Reviews, 1.05, Michael Bennett The Knife & Fork Band — Cold Cereal & Juice (Groove Disques): A friendly EP from a band that mixes strings and an accordion with the usual rock line up to make music that has hints of British folk, The Delgados and early 10,000 Maniacs. The band also has a strong vocal presence. Meg Murphy’s insinuating lead vocal is joined by Denis Murphy and George Shirley in a powerful call-and-response chorus on the fine opener “Crazy.” The band takes a detour from its sophisticated folk on the breezy “Sun, Moon, & Stars”, an excellent piece of swaying ‘60s light pop, which is only enhanced by the creative use of strings. But they should not detour from folk music too often, because we need a 21st Century version of Fairport Convention (yes, I know Fairport Convention still exists — but a younger one, at least). Songs like “Diamonds” and “2000” are far from trendy, but they are exceptional examples of folk rock. A band to keep an eye on, they have a special sound.
POP MATTERS Short Takes, 2.28.05 Michael Franco The Knife and Fork Band, Cold Cereal and Juice (Groove Disques) If ever an EP were made for those Sunday mornings spent in reflection, it’s the latest offering from the Knife and Fork Band, Cold Cereal and Juice. The KFB combine gospel-tinged southern folk with chamber pop orchestration, creating songs that beg you to stare out the window of the bookstore on a cloudy day while reading a stack of magazines. Singer Meg Murphy is equally adept at singing like the soccer mom leader of the church choir or a sultry jazz chanteuse, sometimes within the space of a single song. In the background, fiddles, violas, and cellos glide and warble, while jangly guitars chime and shimmer. Songs like “Diamonds” and “Sun, Moon, and Stars” sound like literate church hymns, while others, like “She Was Sad,” are reminiscent of the coy, bookish character sketches of Belle and Sebastian. Grab a flashlight and your favorite book and hide out under the covers — Cold Cereal and Juice makes the perfectly innocent sound slightly devious.
PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY, 2.23.05, Doug Wallen Knife & Fork Band’s dining fetish doesn’t stop with their name. Take the name of the Philly quintet’s new EP: Cold Cereal & Juice. It’s also the record’s opening lyrics: “I sit down to have cold cereal and juice/ And I marvel at the way you cut me loose.” That line typifies K&B’s happy-sad charisma, which melds well with the coed harmonies of siblings Denis and Meg Murphy and so many breezy snatches of fiddle, cello, accordion and viola. Somewhere between Violent Femmes and the Fairport Convention, this is the cutest quirk-folk you’ll hear these days.
THE BIG TAKEOVER, Issue 56, Reviews, John Micek The EP from this Philly-based septet is rich with cello and the kind of exotic instrumentation that ought to tickle the heart of any sensitive, sweater-wearing Belle & Sebastian devotee. With vocals shared between the brother/sister duo of Meg and Denis Murphy, there’s also a nice evocation of Richard and Linda Thompson—presumably without the dysfunction. But enough with the comparisons. The seven songs are strong efforts, ranging from the searching folk/rock of “Crazy,” to the hooyy “MBH/RIP,” wich evades the temptations of tweeness with some cutting electric guitar work from Denis. [ed – Actually, that’s the MHB’s Chad Coulter!]
THE BOB, Fred Mills, “Almost Friday Night” Review Philadelphia’s K&F band has that rarest of qualities; to sound endearingly familiar yet, yet, as a newcomer (to this writer’s ears at least) to additionally sound unerringly unique. The quintet’s rootsy Folk-Pop engages on levels previously tweaked by the Walkabouts and, at times, given certain subtle Celtic flourishes, the Pogues. Too, the Denis Murphy-Meg Murphy vocal team recalls the the late great Zeitgest/Reivers matchup of John Croslin and Kim Longacre, voices individually distinctive enough to saw against one another’s textures but intuitive enough never to grate, always to soothe. And whether essaying some down-home strum and twang (“Don’t Call Me’), navigating a shanty-like ballad (“What’s Right With Me”) or staggering through a boozy tale of love gone wrong (“Take This Feeling Away” -which seems tailor mafde for Shane McGowan to cover) the group conveys a timelessnes and authenticity that’s unusual for someone hailing from a resolutely urban environment as Philly. Actually its not all that unusual after all: K&F bears similarities to Chicago’s Dolly Varden, another talented new roots combo with a strong guy/gal front line, and the windy city has generated its shaer of distinctively non-urban sounds over the years. Call it the liberty bell’s logical response to the country’s vanishing frontier, perhaps?
FOLKSROOTS (UK), 2000 “Almost Friday Night” review. Forget the rather prosaic band name and dive into the music. One of the comparisons they cite is the Mekons, and they’re not a million miles from that band’s loose-limbed approach to Americana, way back in the 1980s (the fact that singer/accordion play Meg Murphy sounds a little like Sally Timms doesn’t hurt either). Maybe a tad more straightforward, perhaps, but still more than enough to bring a smile to faces that like their music slightly warped. Good songs and a unique vision -throwing a jig into a song where it has no immediate business and making it work, for example. There’s a lot going on here, and it’s all well left of centre. It’s obviouus they’ve taken in a lot of music and filtered it through some seriously demented brains, and for them to play anything completely straight would be an impossibility. When Meg harmonizes with brother Denis, its enough to send a few shivers down the old spine, as on Gone But Won’t Go Away. Considering this album was recorded over 3 years, there’s a considerable focus to it. In a better world, these guys would be major stars. If only…..
DIRTY LINEN, April/May 2000 “Almost Friday Night” Review It might have taken Philadelphia’s Knife & Fork Band two years to record their debut album, but the time spent in the studio certainly didn’t smooth out this group’s rough and rugged charm. The band’s songs are all over the map, from the country sounding “You’re Gone But You Won’t Go Away” to the folky “You Can’t Get What You Want If You Won’t Get Up and Dance” to others that merrily rock along. Led by the brother sister duo of Denis and Meg Murphy, and fiddler Cammy Voss, the group deals with various aspects and hardships of life, but never in an over-serious or preachy way. The music covers so much territory and the group’s approach is so much fun that you can forgive them for the occasional miscue. You certainly won’t be bored.