Reviews roundup – The Kat Kings vs. Effie vs. The Dues vs. Black Dragon vs. Seasplash
THE KAT KINGS
Swingin’ In The Swamp
Not to be confused with Kat & The Kings, the dodgy musical, The Kat Kings led by vocalist and guitarist Kevin McQuade, are an exemplary Canadian jump, swing, blues and rockabilly outfit with a party in their pants.
They released their debut album ‘The Winning Hand’ back in 2011, but then family matters put The Kat Kings on the back burner for a while, but they’re back, and they are on fire. It’s a non-stop speakeasy danceathon, with some fantastic songs. Numbers like “When I Say Jump”, “Poppin’ At Party Time” and “Juke Joint Jimmy” are just irresistible, and have you looking for your zoot suit and winkle pickers.
The rest of the band are burning up the grooves as well, with producer Teddy Leonard (Fathead, The Maple Blues All Stars) on additional guitars, John Dymond (Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Bruce Cockburn) on bass, Chuck Keeping (Big Wreck, Fathead) on drums, and Wayne Dagenais (Joel Johnson) on keys, with Fathead singer John Mays guesting on three tracks.
It’s an utterly fabulous release, and you should be snapping this up immediately.
In complete contrast to The Kat Kings, here comes Effie who is, no word of a lie, the daughter of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich drummer John Hatchman. To be fair, he’s actually Mick III, but it counts as pop royalty.
Originally ‘discovered’ by Lemar, back in 2011 when Lemar was a thing, and releasing singles like “Lonely” and “Turn That Beat Back”, Effie has already had a few goes at pop success, but she’s been going her own way, having worked with grime artist Ghetts on “These Words”, and she’s been putting time in on her own new material with producer Rude Kid, who has also collaborated with the likes of Skepta, Wiley and Kano. So, an alien world then.
However, the one thing I do know is that she has a really strong voice. I’m not going to pretend I care for the tune, because modern r’n’b and UK bass is something I leave to ‘the kids’. And if they get the chance to hear this, then I’m sure they’ll love it.
Thief Of Time
Switzerland now, for some heavy duty blues rock, with the emphasis on rawk! The Dues are a power trio who’ve been on the go since 2011, releasing their debut EP in 2013.
A tour with Swedish band Dollhouse, saw them making with vocalist / guitarist Chris Winter, who offered to produce their debut album, leading to this thoroughly enjoyable release. It’s very retro with the riffs set firmly in the late sixties / early seventies when the blues ha dmutated into a heavy rock beast.
Which explains the excellent histrionics of tunes like “Beast”, “Moonshine” and “Water”, as well as a closing stomp through “Gimme Shelter” by the Rolling Stones. The trio pack a huge punch and it’s a splendid romp from beginning to end. The Dues may not be taking blues rock anywhere new, but they certainly know how to bring it to life.
And the power trio theme continues as we’re off to California in the American colonies now, and to Ventura County, where Sean, Vocals & Guitar, Jeff, Bass and Dave, Drums ply their power trio trade.
But it’s a slightly different beast, as Black Dragon proclaim themselves influenced by: AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Badlands, Chickenfoot, Grand Funk and others. So I was expecting some hefty seventies guitar rock. But I didn’t really get it.
Yes, Black Dragon have a snifter of classic rock about them, but they’re actually more modern rock than all that. They do pack a punch, and there is some metallic muscle to much of the music, such as “Doing Time” and “On With The Show”. But there is nothing here that would scare off a Kerrap! TV viewer. It’s robustly produced and well performed, so take yourself off to YouTube where they have a good few tunes and make your own mind up.
And we’re back in Switzerland to find out what the Duc brothers, Michel, Gilles and Julien are getting up to these days. They formed a band back in 2006, inspired by the likes of Bon Jovi, Metallica and Rammstein, and started writing, rehearsing and playing shows in their quest for world domination.
Well, that hasn’t quite happened, but they did punt out a debut album in 2010, carried on playing and released another album, ‘Black ‘n’ Red’ in 2012. And they’re still at it, and still playing some solid mainstream rock, with a few melodic metal riffs thrown in hither and thither to lively things up.
To be honest, it does kind of fall between two stools, as the guitars really get you worked up in anticipation of the melody, but the melody itself lets it down. So songs like “The King of Death” and “Evil” come really close to winning the race, only to fall at the last hurdle. Nearly but not quite.