Judah Kim Backdoor

The Bends meet indie-rock angst in Judah Kim’s new single, with soulful melodies and a tender vocal performance reminding that you never have to suffer alone, especially when there are people around that care.

Judah Kim

Asian-American vocalist and songwriter Judah Kim seems to be a self-made man, at least in terms of the music business. Avoiding the trappings of record deals and getting his music out there on his own terms, he gives the independent music scene something to reckon with. With this comes the creative freedom that fuels his latest work, Backdoor.

Taking his own interpretation of contemporary indie angst, the sound of Radiohead’s The Bends is probably the closest that compares. The track starts with a thick texture of revolving electric guitars, with tightly interwoven melodic riffs providing a melancholy glamour. The vocals are soft and smooth, showing little sign of the exasperation behind the lyrics, begging a defensive partner to open up instead of hiding away behind defensive walls. The second verse says it all.

Tough as steel. You never need protection. But honestly, I think I know why. Your politics. God forbid you seem weak. Put up walls. You see it as strength.

Try as he might, it doesn’t seem to work, leaving him only open to the pleas of the chorus.

I’m falling with you. Our love is the same. But I see you sneak out the back door.

It’s the chorus when Kim’s voice really shines. His falsetto reveals a similar faint-hearted vulnerability to that of Thom Yorke, the lyrical graces on ‘I’m falling’ opening himself up to attack, all the while reminding that they’re not alone; the option to fall together is always there.

It’s a simple enough song. Mostly based on two chords and a verse-chorus arrangement, the rich backing and production values easily make up for this, going quality over quantity in every way. It feels almost hypnotic, with the two chords continually alternating amidst chiming guitars and a melody that builds to its passionate peak in the chorus.

This isn’t a depressing song by any means. Filled with tongue-in-cheek ‘ooh-la-la-las’ in the backing vocals and a good rock beat that keeps it moving, Kim knows how to make a relationship that’s coming apart at the seams still sound great. A brief instrumental excursion only serves to ramp up the energy, building to a crowd-pleasing final chorus. There’s a lot of emotion in this one, but a lot of fun too!

Getting his music on TV and FM radio by his own hand, I’m sure he’ll have no trouble with this one either. And I suppose all you can do is listen, so get a pair of headphones, sit back and enjoy!   

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Words Calum Moran