KALEO: A Modern Rock ‘n Roll Gem

How many times have we heard the same question: “When are we going to get back to the days of good old fashioned rock-and-roll?” In an age where slapping on “Lil” to the front of your name warrants success in the music industry, this question will seemingly be on the minds of many rock enthusiasts for a while. Bands like The Grateful Dead have returned to touring with adjusted lineups, but the rock fanbase is looking something fresh and exciting. A band that is contemporary, yet nostalgic. A band that brings something new to the table but still tears it up like the original rockers.

Enter KALEO.

An All-American band from Iceland, KALEO has been making music since 2013 with the release of their eponymous album KALEO and having since released A/B in 2016. Their breakout album has by far been A/B with it having achieved Gold status in the United States. Songs such as “Way Down We Go” and “All the Pretty Girls” have achieved commercial success, ranking high on the Billboard charts. Their songs have made appearances on a countless number of television shows from Suits to Riverdale, with “Way Down We Go” appearing in the trailer for Logan.

Every single one of their songs offers a new listening experience, with hard-hitting songs like “No Good” and “Hot Blood” being the kind that you’d hear when watching Peaky Blinders and far more toned songs like “Save Yourself” and “Automobile.” Nevertheless, their songs prove that these guys know how to rock and roll.

KALEO has a unique sound. Their sound is reminiscent of the original blues-rock and folk artists, but it’s very hard to pinpoint exactly whom they sound like. Inklings of Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Cream, and even Bob Dylan can be heard in their work, but none are a perfect match as KALEO’s influence. This adds to their charm, however, as they provide a reason to believe that they are the revival of rock and roll as a whole. Conversely, Greta Van Fleet, another band which has been touted to return rock music to its glory days, has a CLEAR influence from Led Zeppelin with everything from the tone of their music to the sound of their singer’s voice being nearly identical. KALEO, on the other hand, create music that is influenced by the first artists to play blues, rock, and folk, but they do so in a way that is unique, original, and tasteful.

More than anything, these guys are really damn good at making music. Instrumentally, they are stellar. Their songs make sense musically and are layered with intricate guitar work and very heavy drum and bass lines. However, the standout element in their songs is undoubtedly their frontman’s JJ Juliusson’s vocal chops. His voice is deep and rough, but extremely versatile. Their songs like “No Good” bring out his very bluesy and grainy tone, while songs like “Automobile” are good examples of him toning down his naturally rough voice to create a more low-key sound. All in all, their musicality and creativity make for very good music. Admittedly, music is extremely subjective, so anything I say can and should be taken with a grain of salt. With that being said, I strongly urge you to check out their songs, whether or not you are into rock music.

KALEO has not given us much to listen to in their nearly 6-year stint making music. With only two studio albums with much of the songs having been repeated, their sound has still not been developed and refined. However, with the release of their singles “Break My Baby”, “I Want More”, and “Alter Ego” and the impending release of their album Surface Sounds in June of this year, their music will once again be put under the spotlight for us all to enjoy.



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Nitin Bharadwaj

18 year old Film and Music (and sports I guess) writer from the Bay Area.