7/18/08: King Khan & The Shrines

The Supreme Genius Of King Khan & The Shrines
Vice Records
Release date: June 17, 2008
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Sounds likes: A mouth-watering gumbo of unabashedly retro 1960s rock/soul/funk influences

*This review originally published in the July issue of Drift Magazine (www.surfthedrift.com)*

“Retro” comes in all shapes and sizes these days. Fashion, architecture, advertising, cinema… nothing in our pop culture world escapes the nostalgic pull of a little retro-fitting, evoking memories of the past for people who may or may not be familiar with what they’re reliving. But when it comes to the music of Canadian-born King Khan (whose parents were immigrants from India), there’s no separation between retro and contemporary. In fact, give his latest album The Supreme Genius Of… (a collection of tracks recorded with twelve-piece psychedelic big band The Shrines) a listen without any context, and you’d swear up and down it hailed from a very special moment in 1969.

On The Supreme Genius Of…, this modern-day soul man bobs and weaves through a wonderfully greasy stew of rock ‘n’ roll, R & B, soul, and funky psychedelia, with touches of Frank Zappa’s lewd humor and an auditory murkiness making the whole album sound like buried treasure from a bygone era. From the opening guitar crunch of “Torture” to the Stax Records send-up “Land Of The Freak,” King Khan proves that he’s got a solid handle on the most memorable and emotionally appealing aspects of vintage American music. The eerily sensual blues rock of “Shivers Down My Spine” will make you want to practice your sleaziest slow-dance, while the horn-heavy funk of “Destroyer” brings to mind the Edwin Starr classic “War” (“Huh! What is it good for?”). Surfed-out guitars and hollered screams give “Land Of The Free” a frenetic pace, which is perfectly mirrored by the album closer “No Regrets,” an unapologetic barn-burning dance number.

King Khan also dabbles in tropical doo-wop on “Crackin’ Up” and electrified jangle-rock on “Burnin’ Inside,” but he and The Shrines’ complete mastery of all things retro sets The Supreme Genius Of… head and shoulders above any other ode to the 1960s in existence. If the groovy sounds of yesteryear get your blood a-boilin’, the raw authenticity of King Khan & The Shrines should serve up the perfect period soundtrack to your unabashedly retro summer. Who knew a Canuck with Indian blood could bring American music full circle again?

*This review originally published in the July issue of Drift Magazine (www.surfthedrift.com)*

Official band site: www.king-khan.com
Myspace: www.myspace.com/kingkhantheshrines
Label: www.vicerecords.com/khan.php
"Torture" mp3

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