Kaiser Cartel are a male/female two piece band from Brooklyn, NY, and their new album Secret Transit is a strong folk rock record which will likely garner comparisons to Rilo Kiley and She & Him.
What sets this band apart are the percussion-driven tracks like “Carroll Street Station” and “Worn Out Nervous Condition”, which add a heaviness that you won’t find anywhere on She & Him‘s albums. The dual harmonies layer the guitar and drum tracks to a beautiful effect, and the addition of xylophone, whistling, and electric guitar create a lush sound that would have fit in the 70s Laurel Canyon scene.
Having just seen the band live, I can say that the energy and whimsy of their shows aren’t quite captured on the record. A sparse, unplugged version of “Memphis” played with just an acoustic guitar and xylophone during their show makes the album version pale in comparison, but stand-out tracks like the upbeat “Around You” (sounding like a warmer Tegan & Sara track) and the haunting ballad “Minefield” make the album worth purchasing (or at least picking apart via iTunes).