If you like your music hard and heavy, bold and bombastic, you will already be familiar with the Bongo Boy Records album series Kryp II Knight. If not, you are failing in your quest to be ahead of the curve, first to the new sounds, the switched-on, and the plugged into the genre that you profess to love.
But for those not already aware of this well-established collection, this is what you need to know. The series collects, sorts and compiles the best new music garnered from classic and alternative rock, which blends muscle and melody, the hard and the heavenly. And if you ever wished that someone would put together a short list of the best music breaking in those realms so that you wouldn’t have to spend hours sorting the musical wheat from the sonic chaff…this is precisely what the label has done for you.
The aptly named Rock Steady kicks things off, Shawn Michael Perry’s opening salvo of groove-laden classic rock making for a perfect opening gambit, a real foot-on-the-monitor, fist-in-the-air declaration of the albums intent, a neat calling card and a masterful mission statement. Boys ‘N’ Barry introduces a more grunge sound into the proceedings with Love Me Do You, but its low-end growl is balanced by short blasts of squalling guitar and infectious vocals, a smart move that shows you that even rock music can move deftly with the times.
Phillip Cole’s The Only One is a clever blend of rumbling bass lines and battering backbeats, but again, it is a matter of balance, and he chooses to lighten the load with sweet, spiralling guitar lines that wouldn’t sound out of place in an early Cure song. He also appears eleswhere on the record with the more melodic and balladic My Angel, all shimmering slashes of guitar and six-string crescendoes.
The NEW Bardots, one of my favourite new finds recently, has featured two songs. The first is their brilliant and brilliantly addictive Thrill of the Night, old-school rock welded to a more modern groove; the second is a fantastic cover of Zager & Evans’ In The Year 2525. Here they update its impact through their heavier treatment and the great dynamic shifts as the song ebbs and flows between the powerful and the poignant, the epic and the intimate.
When Dale Mitchel and Corky Evans come along with their bluesy, rocky, spacious and understated Why Can’t You Say, you realise how broad the rock and roll realm truly is. But then, any genre label can only be a quick soundbite, hardly able to convey the sheer scope and inventiveness of a whole music category. Especially one that has been evolving and experimenting for over sixty years.
Oblivea is another band that I am already familiar with, thanks to Bongo Boy’s releases, and Deep Inside is different again from what has gone before. Slow, calculated, and controlled, a song built around intense walls of sound and dark and delicious rhythms. Not quite gothic in nature but certainly not unfamiliar with the Stygian gloom of that place.
Onde Radio from Artic Baba reminds us that rock music is a universal language, and this Milanese band infuse their rock sound with proggy intrigue and poppy infectiousness. The song switches from classic rock muscle to wonderfully wandering interludes, from guitar solos to heavenly vocal harmonies, punchy choruses to more considered moments. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak Italian; rock is the new lingua franca, the new common tongue.
And it is with a Heavy Heart that we come to the end of the album, literally, being that it is the name of Fate Will Come’s contribution. Ornate and powerful, energetic and driven, a blend of classic rock and melodic metal, groove and grit and perfect swansong for this great collection.
So, if you like your music big, bold and bombastic, guitar-driven and gritty, hard and heavy, this is for you. Not only a perfectly curated album full of rockers and shakers but a great way of cutting to the chase when it comes to the best new music around.