Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review - Freak Kitchen - Land of the Freaks

Years ago there was a band named Galactic Cowboys whose 1993 album completely wiped the floor with my unibrow. It was heavy yet packed with gossamer four part vocal harmonies, progressive rhythms and power pop melodic sensibilities. It fit me like a glove which means that most people either ignored or hated it. After this album they jettisoned their longtime manager and went in a more power-pop direction. Nice albums but they mostly seemed to come up short.

Fast forward to 2012 and I see an ad which features the guitarist for a band named Freak Kitchen. Don’t I have this band on one of my “check them out one of these days” lists? I certainly do! But back when I did dozens of CD reviews a year my thinking of them and their releasing an album didn’t coincide. Now that I’m freed from absolutely positively having to have every album I buy be reviewed and therefore written off as an expense, I decided to buy Land of the Freaks, their 2009 album that I somehow missed.

Boy am I glad that I did.

This has sat unfinished for about two weeks now so let me get to the chase. This is muscular yet quirky prog rock. It’s not the Yes-derived squiggle type of prog but rather 80s metal riff-based. There’s a lot of Faith No More here (like the excellent “OK”) but usually it’s only snippets of likeness. There’s also bits of, believe it or not, Moxy Fruvous (or Barenaked Ladies for you mainstream readers) in the song “Do Not Disturb.” But overall it’s big, gutsy guitar riffs played with amazing tone interrupted occasionally by early Steve Vai-type solos. Being Scandinavian they have no problems mixing danceable music into the mix, such as the almost disco “Hip Hip Hoorah” and a few others. There’s also a few freakily complex breakdown sections (“Teargas Jazz”) that will challenge your air guitar ability. Oh yeah, each and every song is puffed out with some beautiful two and three part vocal harmonies.

The big “quirk” boost is from their lyrics. Like 80s metal they tackle a lot of social issues but with sick humor. “God Save the Spleen” is about black market organ trafficking, “Sick? Death By Hypochondria” is self-explanatory, and “Honey, You’re a Nazi” is about “Soccer mom hatred” with the best line I’ve heard all year: “Celebrating ‘Arian Superiority’ / No, I don’t care for another cookie.”

I’ll be picking up their back catalog for sure!

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