Stephăn Whitlan's K2Project is, as you might've guessed from its name, electronic music, largely in the Tangs-alike 'Berlin School', with extra added techno influences here and there. I'm afraid I can't tell whether or not it's above average; I doubt it, but most of this stuff sounds the same to my ears (heresy!). Whitlan is credited with Mellotron on closer Illegal Data, but nothing on the track sounds any more (or, indeed, less) like a Mellotron than anything else on the album.
Kaipa (Sweden) see:
Even someone as radio-phobic as myself couldn't avoid The Kaiser Chiefs' I Predict A Riot back in '05, although I've been happy to avoid their subsequent output, at least until now. Their fifth release, 2014's Education, Education, Education & War, is recognisably the same band, spewing out vaguely punky invective in a radio-friendly manner, to the irritation of all but their devoted fans, I'd imagine. It's almost redeemed by the anti-war Cannons (the lyrics provide the album title), with its unusual spoken-word section, but the rest of the material scuppers its chances, at least as far as this site's concerned. Nick "Peanut" Baines (shit nicknames? We've gottem) adds a speedy, clearly sampled 'Mellotron' string line to My Life, improving matters not one jot in the process. Into current UK indie? I'm sure you already own this. The rest of us? Don't even think about it.
Inspired to make music after years of clubbing, Paul Kalkbrenner had no intention of DJing, preferring to create something original, an attitude from which many others could learn. I have no idea what variety of electronica you'll hear on 2001's Zeit; suffice to say, while its programmed rhythms quickly become irritating, Kalkbrenner has an ear for texture, if not melody. Best track? Zeit itself. Runner-up? Unterton. Kalkbrenner sticks Mellotron string samples all over the title track, underpinning them with some squelchy (pseudo?-) Moog bass, although I can't imagine it's something you're going to spend hard cash to hear. Incidentally, thanks to Max for spotting this one.
I'm not sure I can give The Kamikazies any higher praise than to say, 'they sound Scandinavian'; you know, that dirty rock'n'roll attitude thing that the north of Europe's done so well for so long. I'm actually reminded of proto-pop-punks The Undertones in places, too. Top track? Probably opener Bad Girl. One T. Dallas Reed is credited with Mellotron, presumably the samplotron flute line on closer Here On Earth.
Kane are a typical example of the worst kind of insipid modern 'rock'; Radiohead/U2 wannabees, wetter than Coldplay and Snow Patrol having a bitch-fight with a wet salmon. Fearless is their sixth album, so someone must like them; I believe they're huge in their home country, anyway; a classic 'local band'. Best tracks? Don't be silly; look at the star rating. I believe Reyn Ouwehand does his usual samplotron thing, although not a lot, with faint background strings on All I Can Do and flutes on closer Dreamer (Gussies Song).
Jukka Tapio Karjalainen is a Finnish Dylanesque singer-songwriter, operating since the early '80s under several different band names, who (perfectly reasonably) prefers to work in his own language. 1999's Electric Picnic was his third release as J Karjalainen Electric Sauna and something like his fourteenth studio album overall, a diverse offering with roots in rock'n'roll and country that could easily hail from 1975, if not '65; the bluesy Meno Mielessä actually reminds me of Nazareth, never a fashionable name to drop. While most tracks trundle along well enough (if in a language few non-Finns speak), the ultra-repetitive Pikku Josephine could probably have been quietly dropped. Pekka Gröhn plays samplotron, with a flute melody on opener Picnic, a weird, choppy string part on Lomalle Meksikoon that could almost be organ, but isn't and nutsoid flutes on closer Koko Keittiö Rokkas.
The Wanderlust Diaries is the worst kind of insipid singer-songwriter effort, where I'm sure the lyrics are terribly profound (I really wasn't listening that closely), but the Americana-tinged music is dull as bloody ditchwater. I have no idea why John Deaderick is credited with Mellotron.
Karmakanic (ho ho) are yet another Flower Kings offshoot, this time led by bassist Jonas Reingold, although so many Flower Kings members play on his/their albums that you sometimes feel you might as well be listening to the parent band. Their 2002 debut, Entering the Spectra, features Roine Stolt, Tomas Bodin and drummers Zoltan Czörz and Jaime Salazar, so it won't come as any great surprise to hear that it sounds like a darker, bass-led Flower Kings, for better or worse. Much of the material on display here is yer standard prog-by-numbers, although, given that it's a bass player's project, we finally get the inevitable (and dreaded) funk jam on One Whole Half; in some ways, it's a relief to get it out of the way, to be honest. Other lesser tracks include Is This The End?, which starts off as a big, cheesy ballad, before switching into 'manic synth solo' mode, while Cello Suite No. 1 In G Major is, as you might expect, played on bass. Best track? Possibly closer Welcome To Paradise, bur nothing especially stands out. 'Mellotronically' speaking, Bodin sticks a brief, faint string part on the title track, a flute melody on The Spirit Remains The Same, a snatch of choir on Cyberdust From Mars, slightly more overt flutes on Space Race No. 3 and string and choir parts scattered throughout.
Reingold followed up with 2004's Wheel of Life, a more band-orientated effort with less (though far from no) Flower Kings input, typified by the slightly bluesy Hindby and the plinky-plonky likes of the title track. On the samplotron front, we get major flute and cello parts in Do U Tango, one of the album's better tracks and horrible, obviously sampled strings in Where The Earth Meets The Sky and the title track, amongst others. However, the album's overall harmlessness just scrapes three stars, despite the unnecessary material. After a four-year wait, 2008's Who's the Boss in the Factory (no, no question mark; maybe it's referring to someone called 'Who'. Dr. Who?) sounds, if anything, even more like The Flower Kings, although I suspect the vocals have a lot to do with it. Once again, plenty of so-so stuff, although Eternally Part II is, at heart, a(nother) big, sloppy ballad. Samplotron strings and choirs dotted around opener Send A Message From The Heart and a couple of other tracks, although the strings on Eternally sound real.
2010's The Power of Two (that's Nixon's momentous meeting with Mao on the cover) documents a live collaboration between Karmakanic and The Agents of Mercy; an obvious pairing, as the two projects have shared several members at various points. Aside from the obvious Reingold and Stolt, the six-piece lineup featured here is completed by another three members of either or both bands, with Spock's Beard's Nick d'Virgilio on drums. In a nice, even split, the disc contains three tracks from each band, a keyboard solo and a rather perfunctory version of Genesis' Afterglow. Speaking of Genesis, I feel the need to reiterate my comment in my Agents of Mercy review regarding the utterly blatant Broadway Melody Of 1974 rip on The Fading Ghosts Of Twilight. This has to be deliberate, surely? Samplotron in all the expected places, although Lalle Larsson's solo switches between ripping piano and synth work.
2011's In a Perfect World takes a more Spock's Beard direction, although d'Virgilio isn't involved. To be brutally honest, they don't make it work that well; the unusual prog/Latin rumba of Can't Take It With You reminds me of The Light, from the Beard's album of the same name, while closer When Fear Came To Town is particularly dull. I also feel honour-bound to report, with great sadness, that opener 1969 isn't a cover of The Stooges' classic, merely another overblown, unfocussed prog epic. Surprisingly little samplotron this time round, although a string part opens the album. Determining whether or not you're likely to enjoy Karmakanic albums essentially rests on the answer to one question: do you like The Flower Kings? If yes, then yes. If no, then probably no. I won't try to pretend for a second that writing material of this complexity is easy - it most certainly isn't - but Karmakanic seem to be writing to a formula (ditto TFK) for an audience who expect a particular sound. And I thought prog was supposed to be adventurous. Oh well.
UK indie heroes Kasabian's fourth album, 2011's Velociraptor!, makes their two-star debut sound like the work of geniuses (geneii?), its faux-'60s moves sounding every bit as fake as you'd expect. The nearest it gets to 'listenable' comes in the form of opener Let's Roll Like We Used To and La Fée Verte, but nonsense such as Days Are Forgotten, Goodbye Kiss and the punky electronica of the title track highlight the band's grotesque lack of musical ambition perfectly. La Fée Verte is the only thing here with any obvious samplotron use, with a string line that seems unlikely to be the real violins heard later in the track. Seriously, this is empty rubbish. Avoid.
Katatonia are a vaguely doom metal bunch from Sweden, who, by their fifth album, 2001's Last Fair Deal Gone Down, seem to've mutated into some kind of unholy metal/indie crossover thing. I've heard heavier bands use programmed percussion and get away with it, but Katatonia are not one of those bands. It's not that the album's terrible, but it is too long (even at fifty minutes) and their 'metal-riffs-by-numbers' thing gets very dull very quickly. Basically, it sort of drones on for a while and then it stops, which is the bit I like. Anders Nyström is credited with Mellotron, to which I can only say, "You 'avin a larf, then?" OK, I could be wrong (as so often), but the consistently long attack on the strings and the 'too high for the keyboard' notes, particularly noticeable at the beginning of The Future Of Speech, sort of give the game away. Anyway, you get strings on most tracks, plus flutes on a couple, but it all falls a bit flat when you realise it's samples. So; a rather dull album (again) with more fake Mellotron. Next...
'Next' is fifteen years later, with 2016's The Fall of Hearts. Now, I've seen a lot of opinions bandied about that Katatonia have 'gone prog'. Well, if by 'prog', you mean 'melodic death metal', then yes, maybe. However, I don't. This isn't a 'prog' record, it's, at best, 'the prog end of metal', which at least beats what they were doing in the early 2000s. In fairness, it's actually not bad, although I'm having trouble differentiating one track from another, so I shan't try to pick out highlights. Samplotron everywhere; seriously, guys, repeat after me: Less. Is. More. Strings all over everything, notes often held for unfeasibly long periods of time, lots of flutes (which actually sound pretty authentic) and possibly choirs, although those could be generic. The trouble with overuse is, the striking sounds lose their impact, just becoming another part of the sonic palette. Less. Is. More.
Bostonian Katrin Roush's Frail to Fearless is apparently her first 'non-regional' release, i.e. first non-self-released, I'd imagine. Produced by Peter Gabriel sideman and all-roung legend Jerry Marotta, contributors include Tony Levin (Gabriel, Crimson, a million others) and John Sebastian, so why is the end result so dull? Songwriting, or lack of, is the answer. Roush has a lovely voice, but the songs fall into that 'bland adult pop' style that can either sell millions, or fall flat on its face. Is there a 'best track'? Easy. That's The Way, from Led Zep III. Daniel A. Weiss is credited with Mellotron flutes, but the brief, repeating part in Enough and the parts in Ivy and That's The Way just aren't doing it.
Sada Sat Kaur's debut, Angels' Waltz, is an album of gentle, Sihkism-inspired music, its follow-up, Shashara, being more of the same, only less interesting. I tried really hard to like this, but its lengthy, repetitive, meditative-yet-twee pieces only end up frustrating the (or, at least, this) listener. Its predecessor features Zac Rae's Chamberlin, but, despite credits for both Rae's Chamby and Mellotron, all I can hear this time round is some sampled flutes on opener Adi Mantra.
New Yorkers Kayo Dot, led by Toby Driver, began as an avant-metal outfit in 2003, quickly shedding most of their metal tropes to become an intriguing combination of avant-rock, containing elements of more mainstream metal and prog. Their third album, 2008's Blue Lambency Downward, is their furthest yet from their metal origins, which isn't to say that the guitars whisper away gently throughout; they don't, although nor do they actually riff per se very often, either. The only criticisms I'd level at this are 1) drop the vocals and 2) the woodwind's great, but make the arrangements just a touch more cohesive. Mostly, though, the material works well, although it all ends rather inconclusively, at least to my ears. Driver credits himself with 'laptop Mellotron', instantly making him more honest than about 98% of other sample users, playing background flutes on the title track and strings on The Sow Submits. Unfortunately, I found Gamma Knife, from four years later, virtually unlistenable. String-swamped opener Lethe is the closest the album gets to 'normal', but Rite Of Goetic Evocation and Ocellated God are full-on avant-fests of clattering drums, guitar noise and screaming. At least it's only half an hour long. Tim Byrnes' 'Mellotron'? Inaudible.
Ronan Keating, ex-Boyzone, minor talent. His second solo album, 2002's Destination, is exactly what you'd expect, lifeless, mainstream pop aimed at little girls of all ages with too much money (patronising? Moi?). There are no highlights. Rick Nowels and Greg Kurstin are credited with Mellotron on eight tracks, although I'll be buggered if I can hear it anywhere. The background strings on As Much As I Can Give You Girl? Who knows? Fires is marginally better, less terrible tracks include the acoustic Wasted Light and cheery bonus Will You Ever Be Mine? Nowels' sampled Mellotron and Chamberlin appear on Nineteen Again and Get Back To What Is Real, presumably providing the strings, while Patrick Warren supposedly adds Mellotron to bonus track Will You Ever Be Mine?, although it seems unlikely. Fail. Incidentally, did you know that Boyzone's name had already been used by a dodgy fifth-rate bunch of Duran copyists in the '80s? Did you care? I believe there was an out-of-court settlement, rather unfair, as the creators of the '90s band had almost certainly never heard of the '80s one. Well, had you?
Powerpop god Tommy Keene (he released his first album in 1982) survived a two-album spell on Geffen in the late '80s to become an elder statesman of the genre by the 2000s. The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down is his seventh studio album, full of exactly the kind of 'B' band (Badfinger, Beatles etc.)-influenced material you'd expect, which is no bad thing. Original? Not really, but since when was a current album in an old style going to have much originality about it? I didn't spot any actual rip-offs, although The Man Without A Soul opens with the cheeky line, "I think I've lost that loving feeling", but homage is expected, right? The album's personal highlight has to be the sixteen-minute The Final Hour, which rocks like a bastard, still amazingly sounding like powerpop despite its prog length, other goodies including opener Begin Where We End and Hanging Over My Head. Wilco's Jay Bennett plays keys, including samplotron, with background flutes on Big Blue Sky, strings on The Final Hour, both sounds cropping up on The World Where I Still Live, though nothing especially obvious.
Kelda's debut, Detour, is, I'm sorry to say, at the blandest end of the singer-songwriter spectrum, crossing over into 'adult contemporary', frankly. Richard Barron's 'Mellotron'? Distant strings on Love To Love You and occasional flutes on closer Bring Me To My Knees, obviously sampled.
Slushy singer-songwriter stuff from Paula Kelley, possibly at its least bad on The Light Under The Door. Kelley's alleged Mellotron turns out to be the very obvious flute samples (HOW long does that note hold?) on Ordinary Mind.
Dan Kelly is the nephew of Aussie star Paul Kelly, although he could well end up being better-known internationally, if 2010's Dan Kelly's Dream is anything to go by. If you read this site at all regularly, you can't have failed to come across one of my scathing slaggings of some drivelly wet-behind-the-ears modern singer-songwriter crap; well, Kelly is the antithesis of that, writing intelligent, interesting and unusual material (as an example, the title track is in 5/4, hardly a top forty-ready signature). His lyrics are, on average, even more offbeat than his music, more notable examples including A Classical DJ At Dandenong Station and The Catholic Leader; don't get me wrong, nothing here reinvents the wheel, but Kelly stands out from the morass of vaguely similar artists due to his stubborn refusal to follow trends. Kelly is credited with Mellotron, but flute line on Gap Year Blues fails to convince, ditto the strings on The Catholic Leader, dumping this straight into samples without passing go or collecting £200. A fine album, ripe for worldwide discovery, but no Mellotron.
Ian "Kelly" Couture's second album, 2008's Speak Your Mind, is the kind of ultra-lightweight, rubbishy modern singer-songwriter guff I've berated in my Dan Kelly review (above); the kind of music designed to slime its way onto popular US TV shows like Grey's Anatomy. You know, slick arrangements, twee, major-key melodies and that horrible falsetto that every 'sensitive' type feels they have to throw in at least once per song. Nasty. Guillaume Chartrain plays samplotron, with a chordal flute part on Wonderful Humans.
Paul Kelly has been a fixture on the Australian scene for over four decades, his more recent work slotting into the country area. I'm sure the writing on Spring & Fall (Autumn, surely?) is superb, but the overall feel is downbeat and uninventive, although I'm sure that's missing the point. Kelly's nephew Dan plays Mellotron flutes on opener New Found Year, but I'd be surprised if they were genuine.
Gary Kemp, now a successful actor, was guitarist and songwriter-in-chief for the horrible Spandau Ballet, which, I suppose, makes him the 'talented one'. God help us. His lone solo album, 1995's Little Bruises, is as bland a pop album as you could possibly wish for (or not), not helped in the slightest by the dismal cod-Celtic warblings on several tracks. Highpoints? Don't be silly, although the sneaky Bowie lyrical quote in the title track ("Always crashing in the same car" indeed...) at least made me laugh, though not, admittedly, for long. Frankly, this album made me lose the will to live; almost every track is at least a minute too long, except Brother Heart, which would probably be improved by
being deleted losing a good three minutes, which is even more painful than it sounds. Ed Shearmur allegedly plays Mellotron, although it's as good as impossible to say where. The background strings on the title track? Who knows? I suspect samples, anyway. I suppose I should watch what I say here; Kemp rose to actorly fame playing the insanely violent Ronnie Kray in 1990's The Krays, so maybe I should expect some 'eavy to turn up wiv a shooter sometime soon. I look forward to it.
Rose Kemp is the daughter of UK folk-rock legends Rick Kemp and Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span (Rick has also played with the mighty Gnidrolog); she's played with the band herself, so you might expect her fourth solo release, Unholy Majesty, despite its title, to be in a similar vein. The sleeve paintings, with their gothic imagery, could be at the darker end of the folk spectrum and you'd think the presence of a violinist pretty much seals the deal. However... What you actually get is a folk-influenced, progressive gothic metal album, that probably sounds a bit like somebody, but I'll be buggered if I can think of whom. Kemp gleefully mixes genres, shifting from acoustic sections to full band arrangements, (real) Hammond blasting away alongside her goth-metal riffs, suddenly switching to dark violin or prog keyboard passages. Best tracks? Probably Wholeness Sounds, Rose sounding uncannily like her mum, if her mum sang in a goth band and lengthy closer The Unholy. Fakeotron on one track, with strings all over The Unholy. Do you buy this? In all honesty, it's not for everyone, but I enjoyed it and I'm not that easy to please, so I feel compelled to say: worth a listen. Incidentally, a mate of mine has seen Rose play live and asked her about the Mellotron on my behalf (cheers, Adrian!).
Kent are a classic 'locals band': huge in their home country, unknown elsewhere, despite issuing two of their albums in English-language versions. Listening to their sixth album, 2005's Du & Jag Döden (You and Me Death), it isn't hard to see why, as they sound an awful lot like a whole slew of English-speaking pop/rock outfits, only singing in Swedish and with fewer catchy songs. A bit of U2, a bit of The Cure, a bit of Depeche Mode... I think you get the idea. Not-quite-so-bad tracks include the gentle Järnspöken and, er, that's it, I'm afraid. Three of the band's five members are credited with keyboards, but, given that the 'Mellotron' strings on Du Är Ånga and (more obviously) Den Döda Vinkeln are quite clearly sampled, it isn't of any great import. For what it's worth (very little), all other string parts sound like generic samples. Do you? You do not.
Keyboards Triangle were a one-off collaboration between Japanese keyboard trios Gerard and Arsnova (or Ars Nova), although the bands didn't actually play together on their sole album under this banner, 1999's Keyboard Trio Tribute. The project's entire raison d'être, for better or worse, was to record their own versions of keyboard-heavy prog classics, from both trios and larger lineups, with an unfortunate (but expected) emphasis on the overblown works of Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They tackled ELP's Toccata (from Brain Salad Surgery), Trace's Birds Medley (Birds), Banco (del Mutuo Soccorso)'s La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta (Darwin!), Il Balletto di Bronzo's Epilogo (YS), Rick Wakeman's Catherine Parr (The Six Wives of Henry VIII, of course), ELP's Tarkus (Tarkus, obviously) and PFM's Four Holes In The Ground (L'Isola di Niente/The World Became the World).
So; are they any good? Well, with source material as strong as this, both bands would have trouble cocking it up too royally, Arsnova giving us a blinding version of the mighty Trace's Birds Medley and actually improving on Tarkus by playing it instrumentally. Gerard are particularly overblown, but in a reasonably good way, although they slightly overdo it on Four Holes In The Ground. Both bands use Mellotron samples: Gerard's Toshio Egawa adds samplotron flutes and strings to La Conquista Della Posizione Eretta, giving us a taste of how Banco might have sounded using a Mellotron, choirs on Catherine Parr (wrong chords, guys) and strings on Four Holes In The Ground, while Arsnova's Keiko Kumagai adds rather grungy strings to Il Balletto di Bronzo's Epilogo. The Japanese seem to be keen on this kind of thing (see: Kings' Boards), so it comes as no great surprise that there was a second volume, performed by Gerard alone, although it appears to be Mellotron sample-free. As far as Keyboard Trio Tribute goes, if you're into either of the contributing artists, you can't really go too far wrong, unless you see absolutely no point in hearing them cover existing material.
Steve Kilbey is better-known as vocalist with legendary Aussie psychonauts The Church, although he's been releasing solo records since the mid-'80s. 2009's Painkiller is something like the eleventh such and it pains (ho ho) me not to be able to be more positive about it. My problem with it is... it drags. OK, I know The Church have a distinctly psych bent, but this collection of space-rock ramblings really doesn't do Kilbey's reputation any favours. The worst offenders are the tracks where he attempts to ape the jamband scene, notably the twelve-minute File Under Travel, which at least has the good grace to be reasonably energetic for some of its length and half hour closer Not What You Say, of which about the first twelve minutes are 'song' and the remaining twenty ambient electronic goo. Think King Crimson's Moonchild, but infinitely more boring. Like so many other albums I've heard recently, this is OK for a few tracks, then despondency sets in as you realise it isn't going to get any better. The album's highpoint? The lyrics, actually. Kilbey and Tim Powles both play samplotron, with strings on opener Outbound, flutes and strings on Celestial, distant choir stabs on Oenone and background strings on Forever Lasts For Nothing, with a final, more upfront string part on Not What You Say. It's all clearly sampled, though, proven by Wolfe, which opens with the MkII 'moving strings'. Sorry to be so down on this, but even if you discount the last twenty minutes, it's still far too long for its actual content and sounds like it was made by a bunch of stoned-out... Er, hang on...
David Neil: "The Wilderness Years" is an amusing conceit, i.e. Neil was a Canadian rock star Kilbey played with in his youth who "...had the dubious distinction of dying three deaths at once" (OD, plane crash and gunshot wounds). Kilbey claims to have been sent some unfinished masters which he and friends have finished in tribute to their old mentor. The material pastiches '70s mainstream pop/rock a little too well, although Kilbey's own influences leak through all over; amusing, but you ain't foolin' anyone, Kilbey. David Skeet's 'Mellotron' choirs on Higher Than Yesterday ain't foolin' anyone, either.
Kill, Baby...Kill! sensibly keep Corridor X down to half an hour or so, as their frenetic surf/punk hybrid could easily outstay its welcome. As it is, its twelve quick-fire instrumental tracks, replete with soundtrack samples, mostly on the subject of nuclear war, are a delight for lovers of The Cramps and their ilk. Chad Shivers' 'Mellotron' consists of a background choir line on Meltdown In Sector 9. Non.
Will Kimbrough's Home Away is, roughly speaking, an Americana album, although he covers a fair bit of ground across its forty-odd minutes, from the witty hoedown of opener Piece Of Work through the vaguely jazzy Champion Of The World, the mainstream country rock of Crackup and War Of Words' soul (!) grooves. The end result is possibly too diverse for its own good, but several excellent songs save the day. However, I have no idea why Kimbrough is credited with Mellotron. Sad to say, Wings, from seven years later, loses the wit and joie de vivre, replacing them with the sickly-sweet, heartfelt platitudes of opener Three Angels and closer A Couple Hundred Miracles. No obvious Christian references, but that's the overall feel. David Henry's 'Mellotron' is, again, inaudible.
Meres of Twilight is a pop-end-of-post-rock kind of album, all transcendent crescendos and heartfelt vocals. Trouble is, someone forgot to write any songs. Despite a credit, Nick Eskelinen does not play Mellotron.
With a name like King Black Acid, I had high hopes of some modern psych, or at least something far enough from the mainstream to possibly, just possibly be interesting. It would seem I am, again, wrong. They actually play (or at least do on the grammatically-hopeless Loves a Long Song) slightly psychedelic indie, the most 'psychedelic' thing about them being their track lengths, as you can see from the album timing above. I'm afraid to say that having an average track length of eight minutes doth NOT a psych band make and nor do interminable guitar jams over synth washes. That isn't to say that the album doesn't have its strong points; some serious editing would've made this a far more listenable proposition in my book and I usually like bands to stretch out. Daniel John Riddle's the likeliest candidate as samplotronist, with a small string part on Into The Sun and a more major one on Colorado (Wherever It Is You Are).
King Crimson (UK) see:
It would be too easy to categorise Seattle's T.J. "King Dude" Cowgill as another southern gothic-styled Nick Cave impersonator, but the dark folk/country of 2014's Fear has far more depth than that description might suggest. Think: gravel-voiced rockabilly/Tex-Mex-tinted Americana, with songs of the quality of Maria, Demon Caller Number 9, Lay Down In Bedlam and the sparse Empty House, while effective opener Fear Is All You Know harks back to Cowgill's metal roots. Bill Rieflin (Nine Inch Nails, REM, King Crimson) is credited with Mellotron, but, as with the recent Crimso live album, the background flutes on Empty House are fairly clearly sampled. Cowgill has yet to make that album, but Fear shows him well on the way.
It seems King Friday began as, essentially, a side-project of our old friends Crack the Sky, three of its members adding guitarist Corey Marbut and Canadian vocalist Phil Naro (Talas/Druckfarben) to their ranks, drafting in the likes of Oliver Wakeman to help out on their debut, Let the Song Begin. Although they've apparently described themselves as 'progressive', what I'm hearing here is an updated take on '70s pomp, with distinct Styx and Queen influences, some tracks (opener Let The Song Begin itself, the pounding Mesmerization Eclipse) noticeably better than others (poor-man's-Aerosmith Take A Walk, Still The World, 'anthemic' closer Black & Blue). Matters aren't helped by the entirely unnecessary intrusive, pounding drums, which seem to be attempting to ape an expensive production job, but fail miserably. Crack the Sky man Vince "Vinnie" de Paul is credited with Mellotron, but since I happen to know that CtS' old MkV was sold to Mike Dickson, it's hardly surprising that the strings and upfront flutes on the title track and flutes on Down To You and Black & Blue sound distinctly fake to these ears. Overall, Let the Song Begin has several strong points and some good material, but the band might need to work out exactly what they're trying to do before their next release.
May I just say that Aussie psychsters King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard put out far too many albums for their own good? Few, if any artists can keep up an average of two-to-three albums a year without seriously compromising quality and these guys are no exception. Gumboot Soup has its moments, but is a pretty flaccid effort overall, I'm afraid, while the obvious samplotron on a handful of tracks does nothing to endear it to my good self. Fishing for Fishies sounds like it's trying to pastiche several aspects of seventies pop, not least glam and soul, all at the same time, the end result sounding muddled and confused. Again, samplotron on a few tracks, to no particular effect.
Jon Brooks' now sadly outdated nom de plume, King of Woolworths, released a slew of EPs (and the odd album) over a brief period at the beginning of the 2000s, including 2002's Dew Point (yes, it's rude). Brooks' approach to electronica is firmly rooted in a very British, public-information-films-and-TV-incidental-music kind of way, not dissimilar to that of Sundae Club, although his work possibly predates theirs. All four tracks here exude a sparse, melancholic air, slightly spoilt by the programmed rhythms (yup, showing my age again), highlights including opener This Is Radio Theydon (named in honour of Theydon Bois, a hamlet just outside London, boasting possibly the oddest place-name on the Underground network) and closer Take The Strain (referencing a long-running ad for what used to be British Rail), apparently based around an old spoken-word relaxation record picked up in a charity shop. Mellotron? Brooks: "I've brought lots of new elements into the picture including a Mellotron." The strings on This Is Radio Theydon tell another story, however.