Preview: Illiterate Light w/ Kind Hearted Strangers

There’s plenty we missed in 2020-21, especially live music. Lucky for us, KRCL is partnering with The State Room to help us make up lost ground by hosting a Virginia-based indie-rock duo, Illiterate Light, on Nov. 18, 2022. In 2019, they were an up-and-coming band who had just signed with Atlantic Records and released their self-titled debut record. Then the pandemic hit and interrupted their ability to tour and promote it. Of course, great music doesn’t have a shelf-life. It’s never too late to discover a solid debut album even if it’s three years old. Thanks to the DJs at KRCL for staying current, even when the rest of us might be stuck in a time warp. They always seem to find the best new music. There’s no better place to see an exciting new band than The State Room.

The two-piece power duo consists of Jeff Gorman on lead vocal and guitar (he also plays bass notes with a foot pedal) and Jake Cochran on vocals and stand-up drums. Fun fact: Gorman is the nephew of Black Crowes’ founding drummer Steve Gorman.  

Their indie-rock sound, with its folky edges and hints of psychedelia, has been compared to The Band of Horses. I wouldn’t corral them by such a narrow association. Indeed, they are cutting their own path in the Indie-folk genre. Stylistically, they run the gauntlet of early millennia indie rock bands like Fleet Foxes, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco. I can also hear textures of Houndmouth and The Flaming Lips in their sound. Another fun fact: the band’s name was inspired by the line “that illiterate light is with us every night.” from the Wilco song “Theologians.” 

Gorman’s voice has a tonal quality similar to Neil Young’s. In fact, on their live EP In The Moment they scoured Young’s massive catalog to resurrect an obscure, deep-cut, “Vampire Blues.” Their fresh, live version of the 1974 cult classic about the dangers of fossil fuel dependence is both prescient and relevant today. Hopefully, they’ll include it on their setlist for The State Room show. “I Wanna Leave America” and “American Boy” are both great original songs with a Youngian (not to be mistaken with Jungian) flare that makes a connection between the socio-political despair of Young’s 1970s and today.

Their sophomore album Sunburned is set for release in January 2023 with a couple of teaser singles already out like “Heaven Bends” and “Light Me Up,” both trippy and melodic tunes with kaleidoscopic harmonies and a driving rock beat. Armed with a growing repertoire of great indie-folk rock songs and a reputation for a high-energy live show, I can see why KRCL is presenting this dynamic duo.

Opening is Colorado-based roots rockers, Kind Hearted Strangers. They just released an 11-minute opus “Cerberus” that’s an electrified, mind-bending, dead-head-styled jam that should blend nicely with their more contemporary folk-rock songs like “The California Zephyr” and “Red and Blue.”

In a spooky post-Halloween coincidence, I sat down to write this preview while listening to KRCL. They played “Sometimes Love Takes So Long” by Illiterate Light. How did they know what I was writing about? Is that COVID vaccine microchip implanted in my arm tuned to 90.9 FM and the DJ can channel my thoughts? Or can we just trust KRCL plays the best under-the-radar music that commercial radio constantly ignores?

  • Who: Illiterate Light w/ Kind Hearted Strangers
  • What: Indie-folk rock
  • Where: The State Room
  • When: Nov. 18, 2022
  • Tickets and info:,

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John Nelson
John Nelson
John Nelson covers the local music scene for Salt Lake magazine. He is a 20-year veteran of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus with a lifelong addiction to American roots music, live music venues, craft beer and baseball.

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