Buzzbands LA review of “Not Your Hero”: “The most self-sabotaging expectation of all is the notion you can be everything someone wants you to be. So goes Highland Kites’ new “Not Your Hero,” the second strong single from the L.A. indie trio (Marissa Lamar, Neil Briggs and Alex Edwards) since they released their EP “I’m Not Weak” last summer.’ (See full article)
Lemonade Magazine Premiere of “Not Your Hero”: “‘Not Your Hero’ teases musical growth in style and composition with a bit of a mid-century throwback but with modern instrumentation and techniques. The production is clean, but it is raw and honest with that amazing indie feel that sets Highland Kites apart.” -see full article
Atwood Magazine (album premiere): “There’s a profound energy emitting from Highland Kites’ music: Vibrant and bright, reflective and engaged, the band’s beautiful new EP I’m Not Weak is a powerfully forward-facing commitment to life – the ups, the downs, and everything in-between.
Lemonade Magazine’s favorites of 2017: “Highland Kites, took everything that was good about independent music and created the gold standard for an indie release in I’m Not Weak. The Los Angeles trio have traveled and performed all along the West Coast delivering their personal, relatable music with conviction and love. There is an honesty and truth that Highland Kites portrays and delivers and they deserve your attention and ears.”
Highland Kites waffle between self-certainty and self-doubt throughout I’m Not Weak, ultimately coming to the conclusion, on almost every song, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that the individual can see herself through whatever uphill battles she’s facing. That back-and-forth feeling reflects the deeper instabilities within all individuals: Confidence is certainly a learned skill, not a natural trait. We are fragile; we love ourselves one moment and condemn ourselves the next. What Marissa Lamar and Highland Kites are therefore able to accomplish, over the course of these 25 minutes, is quite powerful: I’m Not Weak is a demonstration of the spirit finding internal strength.” – (full article)
Stereo Stickman: “If you’re searching for a soundtrack to your current way of life that is loaded with inspiring energy and deep thought, or if you simply love to discover beautifully refreshing new music, Highland Kites’ latest collection I’m Not Weak is a must.
The incoming distortion, the rising intensity of the lyrics and the vocal performance, all add to this sense of overcoming, of increasing strength, of being free. There’s an incomparable realness to all of this that is expressed with complete individuality, and that makes it something totally special.” (full article)
The Revue: “A phrase that we love to use is, ‘Making the brooding beautiful.’ Songs that are dark yet rich, haunting but immensely captivating. Music that penetrates deep through your skin, causes every muscle to tense, and chill you right to your bones. Daughter and Sharon Van Etten are masters of this art, and Highland Kites could very well join them if their latest single is any indication of what to expect.
“I’m Not Weak” is a stunning and beautifully gripping song. The dissonant guitar is entrancing, and the percussion pound of the purposeful steps of a person on a mission. Frontwoman Marissa Lamar, who is the mastermind behind the band, meanwhile, steals the show with her stirring vocals and intense yet hopeful lyrics. Her message is timely given the events around the world.” (full article)
Lemonade Magazine: “The EP, I’m Not Weak, is a 5-song mastering of what it is to be an independent band that creates music for emotional release and aural enjoyment. The Los Angeles-based trio are the definition of what it means to be an independent. They do not conform to any genre, although we do attempt to categorize, or any subscribed style. They play music as it was intended from the heart with songs written with a personal connection.” – (full article)
Buzzbands LA: “Lamar’s anthems of self-empowerment materialize as edgy, atmospheric burners anchored by the singer’s bold vocals. Like last July’s “Let Me Run” EP, the new release was produced by Raymond Richards, who also contributes guitar and bass. All the way through to the EP’s closer, “Temporary Life,” Highland Kites remind that our mortal coil may ebb and flow and eventually go, but the spirit that inspires its soundtrack prevails.” (full article)
The Ark of Music: ““Breaking all of the cookie-cutter rules to songwriting and production, this album is probably the most anti-pop collection of songs I’ve heard in quite some time. Powerful, true-to-life storytelling, and a highly creative, no-holds barred approach to the art of recording sound, make I’m Not Weak a worthwhile listening experience—but only for those who seek out material that has the ability to define a moment in time, and to affect that moment with emotion and depth.” (full article)
Indie Band Guru: “One of the most interesting things about this EP is how even with all the candid moments and revealing lyrics, the band still produces this extremely positive album. The trio combines Lamar’s charming voice with an encouraging and light backing to create positive reflection. It not only produces just a good album for their fans, but nails in this constant theme that you can come back from it all if you just stop running.” (full article)
Turn Up The Volume: “‘I’m Not Weak‘ is a strong and inspiring high quality pop song. Intense, richly arranged, colored with poetic guitar lines and driven by the truly gripping and vivid voice of Lamar dealing with mixed emotions but strongly convinced she’ll survive in the end, the way she wants. Think Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star) fronting a moody Radiohead. Yes, that special.” (full article)
Indie Spoonful: “Highland Kites delivers intriguing, intimate and impressive music that will leave you changed; encompassing stand-out vocals, artistic lyrics and engaging instrumentation with a knack for revealing the voices inside, Highland Kites flies high above most alt bands.” (full article)
Skope Magazine: “Highland Kites sculpt a surreal sound on the dream-pop shoegaze inspired “I’m Not Weak”. Melodies glisten with a sense of majesty. Vocals possess an angelic quality to them while they drift up into the sky. Simplicity is key for the way the songs are kept to the essentials gives them a true emotional impact. Rhythms help in this effort giving the songs a physicality to them. Layering is done with the utmost of ease, allowing the sound to feel so airy, with a nearly summery attitude that informs the entirety of the collection.” (full article)
Turn Up The Volume: “On my daily search for something special on the Internet I discovered this truly splendid guitar pop/folk trio HIGHLAND KITES based out of Los Angeles and formed in late 2013.
It’s the brainchild of the wonderful singer/songwriter/guitarist Marissa Lamar blessed with a gripping voice. And the first song I heard of this trio and made me silent, instantly was/is a cover of one of Radiohead‘s unforgettable masterstrokes FAKE PLASTIC TREES(from their 1995 breakthrough album The Bends). A truly impressive rendition. Lamar‘s voice is really enchanting and colors the song with a mesmeric touch Thom Yorke would certainly approve. Musically the band’s overall sensitive approach with poetic guitar lines is delightful.” (Full article)
SONG PREMIERE ON POP MATTERS: “In Highland Kites’ new single “This War Inside”, vocalist Marissa Lamar certainly sounds as though she’s battling all manner of demons trying to assert their dominance from the inside. Her voice is vulnerable yet increasingly determined as the music swirls with a steadily building tension. With rapid-fire drums from Neil Briggs, the rhythm and percussion ratchet up momentum to give weight to Lamar’s confessional lyrics.” (Full Article)
“‘Let Me Run’ is a rather great EP. At five tracks, it’s the perfect dose of excellence from a duo that had their heads on straight and knew exactly how to execute their creative vision. When it drops next month, it’s very much worth having on your radar if you’re a folk pop rock fan.” -Tilting Windmill Studios (Full Article)
“Lamar’s folk-pop confessionals are of substantial depth, navigating issues of identity, truth and relationships through a hopeful but wary eye. The full-length was produced by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, et al), whose guitar and bass parts (along with Briggs’ drumming) add a sonic resolve to Lamar’s ruminations. There are strings too, contributed by Kaitlin Wolfberg and Ken Oak, but all is not as melancholy as it might seems when the singer-pianist cops to “blasting the Cure through my headphones,” as Lamar sings in “Now I’m Home.” The shuffling opening track “Small Frame” might capture the overall spirit best, ending in “If my body breaks / my love will be OK / I’m more than just a human / that slowly fades away.” (Full Article) -buzzbands.la
“There’s a sense of oppression in the dominant drum rhythm that carries its listener through, ‘This War’ Inside’. Urgent guitar notes twinkle in warning, and shimmering keys try to fight the dark and agitated arrangements of the track, which sees influences being pulled from the new wave era.
I’ll run towards the light.”‘This War Inside’ is a dark and personal journey of self discovery with its heart set on reaching hope on the horizon.” – When The Horn Blows (Full Article)
“This War Inside” features a fascinating journey through Lamar’s troubles and laments. Following Briggs’ hypnotizing drum beat, the listener is pulled into the quirky darkness that Lamar is trying to purge from herself.
The last two tracks, “Humiliated” and “Let Me Run” both feature energetic, melancholy melodies full of apt guitar and drums. Not eloquent but better: honest. Highland Kites is not a band that is pretending to be anything other than themselves. Taking a full year after their previous EP All We Left Behind, Highland Kites is finally ready to take the stage again.
When Highland Kites decide they want to do something, they take their time and do it well. -ATypicalSounds (Full Article)
“Highland and the Kites is Marissa Lamar and Neil Briggs a female fronted duo mix confessional songwriting with dark 80’s dance pads and shimmering guitars. They have been hyped by PopMatters, Buzzbands LA and No Depression, drawing comparisons to Chvrches and Jenny Lewis.
Highland Kites’ confessional anti-folk could easily be misconstrued as indie rock. With their angular grooves, new wave leanings and sharp-witted lyrics, the LA-based twosome exude an off-the-cuff coolness that is effortlessly backed by a hard earned substance. “ -Coming Up Magazine (Full Article)
“Marissa Lamar’s project, Highland Kites, returns as a duo (with the addition of drummer Neil Briggs) and by leaking the title track off her forthcoming sophomore EP, Let Me Run, which drops July 22nd. With help again from producer Raymond Richards (Local Natives, Avid Dancer), the mellow track embraces a somber, haunting opening yet eventually crescendoes into their signature folk-laced, majestic indie rock.” -Free Bike Valet (Full Article)
“Highland Kites’ confessional anti-folk could easily be misconstrued as indie rock. With their angular grooves, new wave leanings and sharp-witted lyrics, the LA-based twosome exude an off-the-cuff coolness that is effortlessly backed by a hard-earned substance.
It could also be classified in the shoe-gaze genre with their jangling guitars and the etherial sound of Marissa’s voice.” -Bearly Rambling (Full Article)
Lamar and Briggs build up rich and deep sound on the EP’s 5 songs, developing their sonics beyond the borders of the alt-folk genre. A sleek, noir, pop-oriented atmosphere envelopes the tunes, even as they march forward with the lyrics-based directness of folk music. Lamar courageously and assuredly sings about her troubles, boldly expressing her potent words, getting it all out of her system so she can close the book on that chapter of her life. “This War Inside” drives forward with a restless momentum, filled with buzzing keyboard notes, sweet guitar chime, and a dynamic drum rhythm. Lamar’s sing-talking vocals are echoed on occasion as she realizes, “I needed darkness to see the light.” -Stereo Embers Magazine (Full Article)
“Highland Kites will affirm your faith in good music again. They represent all that is magical, real and missing in today’s music. This ‘All We Left Behind” CD delivers a highly diverse 10 track catalog via top flight production/musicianship, amazing songwriting and music that covers all the bases: Rock, Pop and Psychedelic-Alternative Rock at its finest.” (Full Article) – Skope Magazine
“Singer-songwriter Marissa Lamar spent 2013 overcoming a serious illness before embarking on her longtime dream of making music. Collaborating with drummer Neil Briggs under the name Highland Kites, she has released an EP and a full-length album in the past 16 months — both of them, “So Vicious” and “All We Left Behind,” respectively, are available on Bandcamp packaged as one 17-track album. In fact, Highland Kites are already working a new five-song EP for early 2016, but in the interests of catching up: Lamar’s folk-pop confessionals are of substantial depth, navigating issues of identity, truth and relationships through a hopeful but wary eye. The full-length was produced by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, et al), whose guitar and bass parts (along with Briggs’ drumming) add a sonic resolve to Lamar’s ruminations. There are strings too, contributed by Kaitlin Wolfberg and Ken Oak, but all is not as melancholy as it might seems when the singer-pianist cops to “blasting the Cure through my headphones,” as Lamar sings in “Now I’m Home.” The shuffling opening track “Small Frame” might capture the overall spirit best, ending in “If my body breaks / my love will be OK / I’m more than just a human / that slowly fades away.” – Buzzbands.LA (Article)
“I’d go on about lyrics because they are some of the best I’ve heard in a long time. They could be strung together run on sentences or they could be random bursts of conscious ‘I’m not taking this anymore” spew. Personally, I feel that the importance is more in the meat. The answer is in the aural landscape. The rhyme and reason is in the textured textbook style of this masterfully crafted music delivered cleanly reminiscent of classic acts as La Roux, Ocina Pop, AlunaGeorge and Chvrches. The music itself sets a stage, tone, and feeling. But the serenity is soon blown away by powerful A-Factor Lamar and the gang bring to the table via her amazing voice that reaches mountain heights and swoops down into the darkest caverns, churning and chugging along, lumbering, picking up to dizzying speed and dashing the listener against all manner of surfaces.” (Full Article) – Indie Music Reviews
“This CD will simply make your day more entertaining, but there is an undeniable passion beneath all this. These folks are also very capable players as the proof exists between the spoken lines and within the exotic production value. It’s obvious to me The Highland Kites primary goal as a band is to make this world a better place one crazy late gathering at a time…..” (Full Article) – Rock N’ Roll View
“Highland Kites have the creativity and songwriting prowess to be extremely dangerous. What’s more: there is also a unique quality to this catalogue that breaks the mold when compared to the mundane pop/rock that’s been filling the airwaves lately. What am I trying to say – well let m start by saying there is nothing fake and superficial about Highland Kites. I will add not every square inch of this release is filled with musical ambience delivered under duress – but musical space this allows the music to breathe on its own with passion that cannot be faked. Equally as impressive is how marketable this release truly is. It covers so much ground and despite this it manages to not spread itself to thin across to many lines – nice touch.” (Full Article) – Bandblurb.com
“I see Highland Kites as a diamond in the rough, with an amazing amount of potential. As time goes by we will no doubt hear more from this amazing band down the road via more albums. I also wouldn’t be surprised to hear his music on Prime Time Radio someday or even in featured in Film or a TV Production or headlining say the Warp Tour. In close most famous artists out there have “it” I’m not so sure what “it” is but Highland Kites have whatever “it” may be.” (Full Article) – allwhatsrock.com
“Highland Kites first full-length album, “All We Left Behind,” kicks off with an expertly produced acoustic & clean lead guitar combo on “Small Frame,” arguably the best song on the album. The intro quickly weaves quickly into SoCal native singer Marissa Lamar’s first poetic turn of phrase “I’m more than just a small frame, left to be tamed.” The clean and crisp verse that follows leads into a somewhat ethereal and wide open chorus; “I’m only human on the outside.” Brilliant.
“All We Left Behind” is a somewhat slow moving, yet reflective work of art. Generally speaking, the album is largely composed of songs with simple yet delicately balanced instrument arrangements against the poetic content of the piece. The album seems to flow along in it’s own direction which at times feels somewhat fleeting yet retains its sense of purpose.”
(Full Article) -Gashouse Radio
“Highland Kites have returned with their charming full length release, All We Left Behind. The Los Angeles trio is made up of Marissa Lamar (vocals/keys) and Neil Briggs (drums). All We Left Behind was also produced by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, honey honey and more). Throughout the record the band skillfully crafts each piece, bringing to life their indie folk roots. Lamar’s voice is like a dose of heaven that floats above the tracks, bringing something very special to the table. The only downside to Highland Kite’s All We Left Behind, is the fact that it comes to an end. ” (Full Article) – Music Existence
“Highland Kites have an atmospheric chill sound with unsettling, deeply existential lyrics. Marissa Lamar’s vocals crack and droop in places that give the band its unique sound. The music can sound like college rock, progressive rock, or even quirky pop at times. It all comes together for a unique sound that puts me in mind of The Pixies or Radiohead.” (Full article) – Ear To The Ground Music
“Classical meets pop piano, chiming guitars and emphatic drums all find their way into the mix as does an atmospheric and slightly reflective melancholy on songs such as Black and White. You then realise that the comfort zone isn’t so comfortable after all and the middle of the road journey has soon left the tarmac for dusty back roads and off the map dirt tracks that lead to some darker, edgier thought processes and pass through some haunting musical landscapes.” (Full Article) – Dancing About Architecture
“Los Angeles duo Highland Kites have become a Kings favorite with their blend of folk rock. They just returned from a Pacific NW tour and immediately got back in the studio to record their 3rd album with Raymond Richards (Local Natives, Honey Honey) which they are close to completing. They’ve landed song placements on MTV, Showtime network, Tough Love (VH1), & Discovery Network.
Dark melodic indie rock at its finest…” – Kings of A&R
“Highland Kites is a musical project started by Marissa Lamar after overcoming a severe illness. I have to imagine going through the creative process of making music has been a cathartic and therapeutic process for her. On her latest release All we left behind she worked with a handful of talented musicians including Neil Briggs (drums), Raymond Richards (guitar/bass), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin/viola) and Ken Oak (cello). …Lamar delivers her vocals with the utmost honesty that you can’t fake. It also doesn’t hurt that she has voice that doesn’t take much effort to enjoy. …All sorts of references popped into my mind such as Mazzy Star, The Chromatics and even Feist. ….It’s an album that is well-written, well produced and above all else feels incredibly heartfelt and genuine.” (Full Article) – The Even Ground
“Highland Kites (aka Marissa Lamar) returns by leaking the first single, “Small Frame,” off her forthcoming debut LP All We Left Behind (dropping June 29th). Produced by Raymond Richards (Local Natives, Avid Dancer), the indie folk rock song is her finest ode yet with a warm ambience of raw acoustics, twangy tones, and an echoing voice.” (Full Article) – Free Bike Valet