There are plenty of bands or singers out there whose influences reach as far back to the hey day of classic Soul and R’n’B. And at times, you could swear that it is an older song that you’re listening to! Some attribute this to their producer, their parents musical findings, but at times you can hear when things are in an experimental phase and when things are just naturally being released. King Khan is one of those who produce this natural “throw back” vibe, and in an entertaining way that keeps you interested.
I have first seen King Khan and the Shrines back in 2012. They were playing a show at The Stage, a venue here in downtown Miami with two garage style roll up doors than once open allows easy access to its backyard. This was a pre-party for the Bruise Cruise, a 3 day cruise with all sorts of bands from King Khan and the Shrines, Thes Oh Sees, Fucked Up and a few others. When it was their turn to go on stage, the room filled in… plus the fact that it started raining really helped bring in as many people. The band lined up, which looked like a secret service roll call, there were about 6 or 7 people on stage, dressed up in suits and then King Khan came out onto the stage. Sporting decorated black trucks, a long gold cape, and a gold crown with feathers and jewels. This is a showsman! This is how you get people’s attention that the second the first note hits, the whole room is going to erupt with dancing! And it did. From that day on, I became a fan.
Idle No More (2013) is the eighth release for King Khan and the Shrines. And if it’s your first time picking them up, it’s an awesome addition to your collection. Especially if you like Garage Rock, but it is loaded with Soul. That makes it stand out from the others. A lot of bands that try to resonate that “throw back” sound reference the Blues, which is fine, but we need to boost the vibe every so often. This album showcases his fantastic vocal abilities, an homage to those influences. The band is top notch with its playing, sounding tight and well rehearsed. As much as I’m enjoying this album, I’m quite excited to hear this live… that energy needs to be released and witnessed!
The opening track, Born to Die, is a great album opener. Full of horns, organs, and guitar with a retro style bass and drum groove that makes you want to get up and dance. Shame the song isn’t a bit longer! As the album progresses, you get a lot of that guitar jangle from late 60’s early 70’s era pop rock. Not quite like the Monkees or The Hollies, but close enough with a bit more danger in its lyrics rather than positive love references. The first half of the record flow together nicely, starting off strong and then quietly ending with Darkness, a slow churning blues track reminiscent of a Smokey Robinson song.
The second half starts in reverse, compared to the first half. It starts off nice and easy with Pray for Lil, as if giving you a small breather while you’re flipping the record over. It also features guest vocals by Jena Roker, who has recorded with Mark Sultan (The King Khan & BBQ Show) and Red Mass. The songs get a little more upbeat and faster as it plays and then slows down by the last two songs, I Got Made and Of Madness I Dream. It all flows nicely and neatly, never giving you too much and never giving you too little. It’s balanced out to create a fun vibe and then softly let you go by the time you reach the end.
Packaging for the album is quite simple but has its stand out details. For example, the sleeve has the texture of rubber but it is in fact paper. With specific image and text details in glossy print. The minimalist approach of the front and back cover is quickly ignored once the gatefold is opened. Lyrics and album credits are listed inside with a quirky illustration of snakes, a dinosaur skeletons, a bat and a mountain, embellished with dots and swirls. Odd way to describe it, but that’s what it is! It’s done by A. A. Khan, while the cover drawing is by Oily Chi with the photographs by Miron Zownir.
This album is a great album overall, with no complaints about the songs. Only that it should be longer! Some songs end early, hopefully they’ll get extended during live performances. Is it worth having in your collection, absolutely! You can play this during a get together or a lunch with people who enjoy music that has horns, soulful singing, grooving rhythms. It’s very light hearted with a few slow moments, so if you’re hosting a party, it can be used as cues to serve food or just change topic of conversation.
PAIR THIS ALBUM WITH
Mulderbosch – Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé [Coastal Region, South Africa 2011]
Most people are used to Rosé being either really sweet or really dry. This South African wine stands completely out from those pretenses. A soft sweet, floral tone that transforms into a dry hit onto the palette . That being said, it’s quite flexible with all sorts of food and according to the label it states “crab cakes, chicken satay, spring rolls with ginger dripping sauce, herb rub roast turkey, ratatouille, fruit glazed pork chops or strawberries and cream”. With that description, this wine is open to all meals!
Other reviewers and sites state that this is a fantastic summer wine, and I agree. Where as it has body, somewhat to a Pinot Noir, it is light enough to any white wine. So it’s refreshing for everyone, especially a red wine drinker. Like I said early, if you’re hosting a party or get together or invited to one, this is a perfect tasting wine to please everyone and that can compliment whatever is being served.
Vinyl & Vino rating: 4 out of 5
TOP FAVORITE TRACKS
Bite My Tongue
Born To Die
Pray For Lil
Of Madness I Dream