Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Monday, February 6, 2012

King Kohn ~ Peace, Love, Death

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
style: folk rock, black metal
Label: self-released
Year: 2011
Home: Austin, Texas

Members: King Kohn ~ vocals/acoustic guitar/violincello

Additional: Austin Girl's Choir ~ b. vocals
Doug Frazier ~ electric lead guitar
Michael Krieger ~ drums


Voice & acoustic guitar ... it's an old story ... but still has potential to sound refreshed. KK is an acoustic troubadour with a darker rockin' edge, a comical musical grin & a hippie attitude like Country Joe McDonald, whose bringing Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan to the new century with a new attitude & a new set of problems to scribble & shout about. He's is a folk singer for the new age with heavily strummed rhythms on lone acoustic guitar ... his father's Yamaha guitar from 1966, no less ... & Lead Belly-esque booming vocals, storytelling lyrics & the occasional electric guitar leads plus some basic drums & backing vocals creeping out of the mix without fanfare. But, primarily its just voice & acoustic guitar. It's a simple well-tried formula. What KK explicitly brings to it new & different is his distinctive Screamin' Jay Hawkins-esque vocals & aggressive but not out of control rock energy. This is acoustic hippie music but yet stands in the gab between folk rock & traditional folk. Maybe a well-known comparison in feeling might be some of Ani DiFranco who brought the energy of one style to the sound of the other. It's got an aggression & drive & KK is certainly honed in the art of metal-esqie bold singing, an art unto itself & it would be interesting to hear him sing with a full band. Though, at times the heavy vibrato vocalizations verge on comical, leading one to think about the Cramps as a comparison. The loose vocals don't quite fit with some of the underlying darker lyrical moods ... though one might also throw up the comparison of some old horror movie monster like Dracula for a different definition of what dark means. On the other hand, KK is probably just letting his voice croon whereever it feels like going, as this is coffeehouse music that's off the cuff as coffehouse music should be. KK is certainly aiming for uniqueness as his press release describes him as "acoustic death metal hippie folk rock ... imagine Elvis meets The Dead Kennedys with a twist of Death". It's a bit of a rambling description that might raise eyebrows in doubt as such descriptions usually do. Certainly, KK has a dark "death metal" edge to his lyrics, as belayed by the song titles "Who Knows What Could Happen Today", "Where Can I Go To Be Me", "Black Looking Glass", "Happy Death", "Lonely Dolls", "Save Me" & "Death", while the growl in his vocals make it all the more evident. Like Eddie Vedder's Ukulele Songs this is one of those albums you may not turn to immediately ... I mean, how many of us are that interested in solo ukulele, let alone acoustic hippie black metal, whatever that might mean? But, like Vedder's debut KK has also crafted out a debut that goes beyond expectations for an interesting ride. A particular highlight of the album is the little extra touches, such as the occasional electric guitar lines that are generally kept low in the mix & used sparsely & the haunting girls choir on "Save Me" that intone deeply the title periodically. KK recorded the album on two inch tape, a technique no longer used except in rare occasions, to bring back a classic clarity lost via computerized plug & play. Audiophiles will enjoy looking for the subtle nuances in that. This might be KK's debut but it's surely far from being a one-off recording as KK is also a prolific author & poet with numerous books available. He's even created a board game. KK is a work in progress. Peace, Love, Death is a solid stepping off point for his latest ... game of peace, love & death.





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