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Friday, May 09, 2008

CD Review: King's X - XV

King's X - XV
2008 SPV Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.



For all of the longtime industry respect and appreciation from their fans and peers, KING’S X ought to be seriously wealthy. They certainly had their shot in the late eighties with their commercial breakout (and two of their finest) albums Gretchen Goes to Nebraska and Faith Hope Love, while later albums such as Tape Head, Dogman and Ear Candy are all frequently overlooked underground gems that have marked King’s X as a world-class rock band. While they may not have reaped the rewards of their long and substantial efforts, the baby boomer trio possesses a rare quality of musicianship that is its own reward. King's X is thusly a band asserting and feeding themselves from an intrinsic value and payout that has made them one of the most esteemed hard rock bands of our time.

Keep in mind King's X has never been overtly flashy, but what they have been consistently since 1988’s Out of the Silent Planet is real. Part of it has to do with King's X’s affinity for merging Beatles nirvana vibes with more contemporary snub-nosed riffs, while more than a fair chunk has come from the expressive wailing of dUg (formerly Doug) Pinnick, lending an element of funky acapella to his shotgun rider guitarist Ty Tabor as well as offering a rare state of rock sedation at times, so that King's X is as much about country and soul as it is about independent and heartfelt rock ‘n roll. Though it seems not long ago that King's X marched confidently forward with the demonstrative Ogre Tones, a couple years have passed already and now we have XV, a King's X album recorded by veterans who are so settled into their craft and so on point with what they do it’s hard not to admire the ease in which they pull it off.

At times XV is jumpy and driving with songs like “Pray,” “Rocket Ship,” “Move,” “Alright” and “Go Tell Somebody” while at others it’s laidback and even hangdog on stray and sway tunes likes “Julie,” “Repeating Myself” and “I Don’t Know.” The way “Pray” starts XV with an uplifting spiritual bounce then skids dramatically into a slackened drawl on “Blue” is rather slick, as is the way the swampy and mildly jaded rocker “Broke” gives way to a steady mid-tempo lean on “I Just Want to Live.” In other words, XV is another prototype King's X mood swing collection, but the way these guys shift vibes with barely a thought in the same way dUg Pinnick and Ty Tabor trade off vocal duties (not to mention Tabor’s habitually crafty and instinctive guitar solos) makes for a reliable and trustworthy listening session. More proof positive of the sheer class King's X brings to a fringe rock table that always has seats reserved for them.

Rating: ****

7 comments:

David Amulet said...

I haven't listened to King's X in years--this is one of those bands I always intended to get into, but the opportunity has eluded me. Maybe this year.

Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

go for it, bro, seriously, go for it

pcsolotto said...

Whoever owns this blog, I would like to say that he has a great idea of choosing a topic.

Dinofond said...

I agree, amazing band with another amazing release.

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