When you pop in an album without knowing one thing about the band, and the first three songs remind you of the E Street Band, Ray Davies, and Television, you know you are in for a good ride.
Even though the music sparked those comparisons, in no way should Ists music be pigeonholed. King Martha has its own vibe, its own personality, and its own place in rock n roll. Its sexual and complex and at the same time simple and funny. This is what happens when you put a Canadian, an Englishman, and a Scotsman in a band, and believe me this melting pot of musical talents needs to happen more often.
When I finally read up on Ist, I found that the band has had some struggles, including their lead guitar player quitting and the death of their former bass player. King Martha represents the bands decision to keep going, not to let tragedy hold them back. I also discovered that the band has a lovely sarcastic or perhaps sardonic overtone to them that tends to make them even more charming. This aura about them can be heard throughout King Martha, which is not only musically well-crafted, but the lyrics are sharp, poignant, and intelligent as well. The many guest musicians on the album help in dolling up the tracks, but even if these were played as stripped down acoustic numbers, they would still be outstanding. If there is one track that sticks out the most for me, its the finale, Selfish Terrors. Its just a beautifully written and well arranged piece of music with a chorus that just sucks you in. It is a sad and self indulgent number that finishes off an already incredible album.
Im just not sure what it is about this band that intrigues me; I really think it comes down to the fact that it is just a breath of fresh air. So many new albums come out, and their production is overkill. How many tracks can we fill with overdone noises? But not on King Martha. This is rock with rock instruments: guitars, drums, piano, and saxophone, you know the stuff you might find on a Kinks record. Well done men, keep up the good work.
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