Album Review: King Brothers – Wasteland

  • Peter Hough posted
  • Reviews

King Brothers

Wasteland - Hound Gawd Records

There is always a bit of a disconnect when you hear familiar-sounding music done brilliantly by a band from far, far away. Not that the frantically deranged blues rock of the King Brothers is culturally jarring – Japanese bands have been doing magnificent things for a very long time – it’s just that it’s all so unexpected. Wasteland is a scrapbook of an album. If there’s a unifying theme running through its pages, it’s lost in translation. I don’t know if King Brothers are angry or ecstatically happy. Or both. What I do know is that they make an almighty racket and that most of the time, it’s pretty damned good.

King Brothers are musical magpies, collecting shiny bits of incongruous musical stuff and mixing it up in their big, mad rock blender. Title track Wasteland is a massive, dirty blues-grind where everything is louder than everything else. Classic instrumentation: relentless guitar, wailing harmonica, furious Hammond organ and is that an angry reverbed vocal? I don’t know, it’s sung in Japanese. Onwards to the more garage territory of No Want and Bang Blues, where the tempo takes off. You can hear the Jon Spencer connection in these tracks. There’s introspection too here. The Farthest End, with its insistent drums and odd time signature is almost Radiohead-esque.  No Thanks will feel familiar to those who enjoy the heavier end of J-Pop. It is likely that Kick Ass Rock is a mighty anthem and destined to soundtrack a montage in some film Tarantino is yet to create. The remaining tracks celebrate previously undiscovered levels of distortion and I guess it’s no coincidence that the closer Sympathy For The XXXXX evokes a visceral memory of a similarly-titled Rolling Stones track. Pleased to meet you too, King Brothers.

King Brothers‘ live shows are, apparently, epically chaotic and destructive. I’m sure this record captures some of that intensity. Even if you don’t understand what they’re on about, this is a terrific album.  If King Brothers have a house, I promise you this: the carpet is sticky and most of the lights don’t work. If you like the dirtier end of blues and heavy rock, enter at your own risk. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Wasteland can be pre-ordered via Hound Gawd Records here