Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Briefly Noted: Rock 'n' Roll

Kid Kongo & The Pink Monkey Birds - Philosophy & Underwear (Trans Solar, 2005) Former founding member of The Gun Club guitarist and singer "Kid Kongo" Powers steps out on his own with a mix of raunchy garage rock with some glam and no-wave influences thrown in to boot. Supported by a rotating cast of musicians making up the Pink Monkey Birds, Powers is most successful when he sticks to straightforward raw punk like of the guitar fueled "Black Bag." When he tries to step out into more narrative songwriting, the results often seem forced, as on his duet with Little Annie on the dragging "The Weather The War." The cheekiness of the lyrics can go either way: the snarky "Although Your Leather is Cliche" Is New York sneer like something Lou Reed would sing, while "Why Hurt Flesh" tries for a Velvet Underground feel and doesn't quite make it. What you end up with is a mixed bag of songs work well when their pretensions are laid aside, but fail to impact when things get a little too elaborate. Less is more.

Deltahead - Deltahead (Phantom, 2006) Deltahead are a Swedish punk-blues hybrid duo that mines the same fertile ground that birthed The Black Keys and The John Spencer Blues Explosion. They make quite a racket, playing guitar and bass while simultaneously banging on bass drums and singing. There's a fun DIY feel when they are at their best like the driving faux-gospel stomp "My Mama Was Too Lazy To Pray" where they recall the enthusiasm of early punk rock. These guys are probably a hoot live, but on record they quickly run out of interesting things to say, moving into comedy "Don't Move to Finland!" and satire "Love Me, Follow Me" but losing the visceral energy of the opening tune. If they can come up with some good songs to match the fascinating cacophony they make on their instruments, they could be a band to keep an eye on.

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