Review: King Khan & The Shrines – “Idle No More” [2013]

Band: King Khan & The Shrines
Label: Merge Records
Date: September 2013

Tracklist:
1. Born to Die
2. Bite My Tongue
3. Thorn in Her Pride
4. Luckiest Man
5. Better Luck Next Time
6. Darkness
7. Pray for Lil
8. Bad Boy
9. So Wild
10. Yes I Can’t
11. I Got Made
12. Of Madness I Dream

Comments: I just saw a thing, announcing this as a comeback album for the sensational, one of my favorite bands for some time now, King Khan and the Shrines. That’s kind of true, I thought. Their last release – The Supreme Genius of King Khan and the Shrines – was my personal introduction to the band. It came out in 2008. But in the time between (5 years), I’ve had the great chance of seeing the Shrines three times, in ’09, ’10, and ’12. So they’ve always been around, putting on some of the finest shows a band can. The presence of King Khan as soon as he hits the stage is always met with crazy levels of reception. It is usually after the 8 member Shrines warm us up with their horny glory when Khan joins in on the madness. While Idle No More might be considered as taking it down a few notches, it is a still a bastion of psychedelic soul, R&B, and fuzzy rock ‘n roll that I haven’t found to be matched in the modern era. The older Shrines releases have some more grease to them, maybe a touch more slime, and easy flowing blunt force, but this is something of an instrumental masterpiece.

Maybe as I’ve gotten myself familiar with King Khan’s music over the years, I’ve begun to appreciate the finer aspects songwriting and recorded performance present in such an outwardly fun style of music. But yeah, what I’m trying to say, is that Idle No More has more layers and dynamics to it than the average r’n’r album, that it’s hard not to appreciate just the fact that something like this was pulled off with great success. There’s definitely some unexpected moments – like on songs like “Pray For Lil” and “Bad Boy” that feature vocals from Jena Roker who sang on “Unicorn Rainbow Odyssey” on Mark Sultan’s Sultanic Verses. That last bit of info I had to look up, but I remember a female singer from that song that was really a cool way to end an album. But yeah these songs are ultra-soul, but keenly poppy while maintaining the innate rawness of the Shrines. This is stuff that’ll most likely win over your friends that are afraid of getting into real good music. The first four songs on the album – “Thorn in Her Pride” and “Luckiest Man” are tops for me at this point – these are the ones that’ll get the people moving the most at the shows. They all sound faintly similar as far as being driven to climax by outrageously crisp horns and choruses that will struggle to leave your memory. “So Wild” is a tribute to Khan’s dear friend/one of this site’s most advocated artists Jay Reatard. The production of it recalls Jay behind the mixing boards – it sounds sorta somber at the start, but truly explodes during the chorus.

Some bands might get a little flak for songs sounding like each other, but the Shrines manipulate the formula often enough that distinct styles often shine through like the garage jangle on “Yes I Can’t” (a standout on the album for sure, a powerhouse of a song) and hand-clap galore, early Shrines throwback “I Got Made”. People who really dug The Supreme Genius oughta definitely appreciate that one, particularly. The one tune that makes it mark as a departure from the upbeat pulse of the record is the minimal “Darkness,” which is haunting and stands as a mini-closer. The real finishing touch is “Of Madness I Dream”. It sways slowly, builds progressively, and reaches a fuzzy tipping point, collapsing solos reign before Khan’s vocals re-enter to deliver the final lines.

Idle No More doesn’t quite have the sultry passion that dominates the Shrines earlier work, but for seemingly deeper songs, these still rock ‘n roll… time and time again. The stuff is held together well, a little grit has been traded in for sonic soundness and more often than not, this works great. One of the more interesting bands of our time with a just as interesting front man, King Khan and the Shrines have once again delivered to us modern rock and soul as rousing as it comes.

klyamrecommended

Concert Review: King Khan & The Shrines & Hector’s Pets @ Brighton Music Hall (7/23/12)


Bands:
King Khan & The Shrines, Hector’s Pets
Venue: Brighton Music Hall (Brighton, MA)
Date: Monday, July 23, 2012

Act One:Hector’s Pets – Hector’s Pets is an exciting five piece rock and roll band. Excitement comes in many forms, but with Hector’s Pets, my major source comes from the oddity of the group. They are an interesting visual: a front-man singing and clapping with a tambourine, a surfer-type dude on vocals and guitar, a Ty Segall look-a-like on bass, a ’70s glam rocker on lead guitar, and a cool as an autumn breeze drummer with sunglasses. Those are rough descriptions; I am not trying to aesthetically diss the guys. Musically, I recognize one song towards the end of their set. I am surprised that I recall it, because I only saw a few clips of the band weeks before the show. The song is “Station Wagon“. It’s good. The rest of the songs — I couldn’t quite get into them as much as I wanted to. I’m not incredibly hard to please so this was surprising, but they seemed in a bit of a rock and roll middle ground; heavier than stand-still groups like Real Estate, but considerably slower than an all-out blitz a la Jay Reatard. On an optimistic front, maybe they will become a 2012 Brighton Music Hall version of 2009’s Box Elders at the old Harpers Ferry. By that I mean to say I found myself more curious about the band’s on-stage persona than the music itself. I came around to the Elders and I was hooked by the time I saw them for a second time opening for Black Lips at Middle East Downstairs in March 2010. I keenly anticipate listening to more of Hector’s Pets.

The Final Act: King Khan and the Shrines – It sure is humorous to recall the mysticism surrounding the first time I saw King Khan and the Shrines. Reading about Jared Swilley’s premier experience was a bit like cracking open Fear and Loathing — there’s a bunch of vivid imagery about wild times, but it’s hard to make sense of them until they’ve happened to you. Needless to say, Khan and crew clicked on all levels that very May night at the Paradise Rock Club – their biggest Boston gig by far at that time. The sound was superb, the crowd went extra crazy, and the Shrines still had Bamboorella as their lead dancer. Fast forward a little more than a year to October 2010. The Shrines are back in Boston, this time at the Royale. The event is undersold, but features a fantastic opening line-up of Red Mass and Gentleman Jesse and His Men. The show is a great one, but it’s a toned down event, in sound and in performance. Now, it’s July 2012 at the Brighton Music Hall. Upon announcement, the choice of venue is surprising given the past two much larger locales, but with a lot of college kids gone for summer, it makes more sense for the Shrines to play Brighton. As the days draw closer to the event, I smirk as I do before all shows involving my favorite bands. An incredible time is ahead! And it was quite the show! No Bamboorella, one less man on horns, one less man on guitar. These are just some minor things I noticed. The sound wasn’t quite as solid as it was during the previous two shows. Opener “(How Can I Keep You)” felt less ‘complete’ this time around for sure. But what suffered in sound was made up for in practically every facet of the performance. You could tell King Khan was especially grateful for the audience’s reaction of singing along, dancing crazy, jumping up and down, etc. He did his part as well, especially in the encore as he wrapped the front-row in his cape and high-fived several people. Others in the band leaped into the crowd at various junctures, sometimes playing their instruments, sometimes just soaking in the fun. I remember thinking to myself, “wow, they keep playing hit after hit,” at one point and then thinking the same thing a couple of songs later. Great. A good chunk of the band’s live material was taken from Supreme Genius and What Is?!, but there was a nice bit of new and old — the old being “Stoned Soup” (for example) and the new being “So Wild” (a tribute to Jay Reatard) and “Bite My Tongue,” both of which will be released on an upcoming LP. The classics for me (and for others..judging by reaction) were “Took My Lady To Dinner,” “Welfare Bread,” and “I Wanna Be A Girl”. It was nice to see a lot of familiar faces having loads of fun. A moment of weirdness came after the band finished playing. An older gentleman with a saxophone in his hand climbed on stage and started playing solo. Most people were confused, but we seemed to embrace this peculiar occurrence. His performance lasted five or so minutes longer than I would have liked if I had a choice, but I did not. He kept playing. Eventually and fortunately, the Shrines made their way back on stage (thanks to percussionist Ron Streeter, who is a master of bringing the band out of the green room) and ripped into a few more tunes. There was hope for a second encore after several moments of silence and darkness and pleas from Streeter, but the PA music came back on and the show was officially over. The Shrines will be back soon. I was assured of this after the show by Shrines trumpet player Simon Says. Just when… we’ll see!

All Photos courtesy of KLYAM’s soul brother Glenn Delrossi. Thanks buddy!

Three Years Ago Today: The Shrines & Mark Sultan @ Paradise

If the time-machine took me back to 8:20 PM on Thursday May 7th 2009, I’d be standing in front of the Paradise Rock Club’s stage waiting in anticipation for the show to start. I had not yet seen King Khan and the Shrines or Mark Sultan in the flesh. But I had waited patiently for my own Jared Swilley moment (refer to the Supreme Genius LP/CD if you don’t get the reference) and yes it happened!

Read a review that Chris and I wrote following that very performance: https://klyam.com/2010/10/13/memory-2-classic-concert-review-shrines-paradise/

On a very related note, both King Khan and the Shrines (July 23, Brighton Music Hall) and Mark Sultan (this SATURDAY, May 12, PA’s Lounge) will be coming back to town.

Several Nice Tracks For You Patient Folks Today

King Khan and the Shrines – “Bite My Tongue” – Bruise Cruise 7″ – You might remember this one from the Shrines Fall 2010 tour. Maybe not. Either way the studio version has just arrived and it’s a nice segue back into some of that real rock’n’soulin KK+Shrines flavor that the KK Experience lacked! LISTEN

Baby Chuck – “Whatever Is Happening” – This is the band of the same named guitarist/songwriter in Orwells. “Whatever” is a rugged rock and roll’r with some slick guitar riffs that bring to mind the Smiff West, and a harmonica solo to finish things off! If you love The Orwells, you’ll be a Baby Chuck fan. Or something’s wrong. LISTEN/WATCH VIDEO, BandCamp

Mind Spiders – “Wait For Us” – Meltdown (Dirtnap) – Mind Spiders put out a really good S/T album last year. It had the supreme “Don’t Let Her Go” on it. This one is addictive from the start. Has that sort of instant garage pop charm that Reatard had down pat.

Life Partner – “King Nothing” – Dogs (Sophomore Lounge) – Dang, how had I missed out on Life Partner. I love the production on this one. The droney vocals and that real upfront drum set really make you PAY ATTENTION. Plus, it’s pretty short, so you can just go back and replay it. LISTEN/WEBSITE

Concert Review: King Khan & The Shrines, Gentlemen Jesse and His Men, Red Mass @ Royale (10/13/10)

Photo Credit: Kyle

Act I: Red Mass – Red Mass was a weird/bizarre act to watch. They definitely had the “rocking” quality to them. One of the first things that I noticed was a similarity to the K-Holes. They put us in a trance of sorts with their dark/psychedelic aesthetic. Choyce, the lead singer and guitarist, had a funny hodgepodge of clothing items on — a bandanna, a large medallion necklace, and a dress shirt with tie. He was into it and so were we.

Act II: Gentlemen Jesse and His Men – Oh, Gentleman, where shall I begin? (All I needed that night) was to hear this band. A very fine band from Atlanta, Georgia. They rocked just as hard as they did when they opened a month earlier at TT The Bears. They had their keyboardist present and his little melodies added a little bit to the sound. Jesse is just the man. Great front-man. He is a Jared Swilley-like character. They’re from the same hood, yo. They sound like a classic rock act that you take your girlfriend to see and then fuck when you get back home. You highland crawler, you. I felt like eating some candy during “Butterfingers.” Fuck, what a tune. It’s as invigorating as just about all of their songs. The backing vocals were mixed a little low, but no biggie we had Jesse.

Set List:
If I Can See you (written as “If I Can C U”)
Highland Crawler
slips right into
Black Hole
What Did I Do
Shivers
Rest of My Days
Only Lonely
Butterfingers
Careful
All I Need Tonight (Is You)
I Don’t Wanna Know

Act III: King Khan & the Shrines – Sensational, you bet. This what we’ve come to expect from King Khan and that right there is terrific. Started off with “Outta Harms Way” King, following the usual instrumental, screamed his lungs out and got everyone going. As always with Shrines shows the audience was more akin to a religious cult than a rock show- everyone going wild, being mesmerized by King Khan and His Mysterious (yay a new adjective to describe these boys and girl!). Which by the way, this time around Bamboorella was absent, however her replacement sufficed. She could move and groove and she was quite attractive, but I need my bamboorella fix haha.  Back to the music, the Shrines unleashed their classic, Supreme Genius material, which is exactly what I adored and anticipated. Hits such as “I Wanna Be a Girl,” “Land of the Freak,” “No Regrets,” “Took My Lady Dinner,” and more. Alright, well before I start to sound like a fucking infomercial I am going to wrap things up here. There were a few new numbers performed including “Bite My Tongue,” which I definitely can see becoming a Klassic Khan ditty in time to come. This was a great and highly entertaining show, one of the best I have ever witnessed. If you need a quick pick me up, ok a relatively quick pick me up, King Khan and The Shrines are your saviors- leave you smiling for a month. Lastly, as much  as I loved this show, it was not on par with my first Shrines experience for three reasons. 1) Khan was a bit restrained this evening and though he was still his energetic, charismatic self, he was much calmer. 2)  I attribute my slight lack of devotion i.e. me not feeling the “this was the best show ever!!!” kinda deal to no longer being a Supreme Genius virgin, since this was my second time seeing them. 3)  It was not as loud as last time. Don’t get me wrong, it sounded nice, but the PA definitely needed some raisin’ and that would have made it all the more effective. With those minor qualms aside, fantastic show as I expected. Can’t wait to see them again and again and again.

Grade: A

Phewf!

Listening to the “Party Favorites” channel on Comcast, I came across a good song here and there like “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads, which I actually felt was more of an eclectic “Party Favorite,” but still definitely suitable. Then comes on this song that I actually confused for a similar sounding King Khan and the Shrines song. Shame on me, because I read the words “Smash Mouth” on the screen! The song? “Can’t Get Enough of You Baby.” I will whole-heartedly acknowledge that I suck at music history (and this post is sure to piss off one Ben Tan if he ever gets around to reading it) so yeah, I didn’t know that ? and the Mysterians did it first and then Smash Mouth covered it. It’s really garage-y and showy hence my WTF this is actually decent party shit reaction. That’s that!