(January 01, 2003)
Overall Rating: ++++-
A while back I reported in a review that The Lassie Foundation, one of the best pop bands youíve never heard, had finally decided to call it quits after releasing their best record, The El Dorado LP. Given the distinguished careers of the bandís musicians, itís unsurprising that all of them went on to other projects: drummer Frank Lenz dropped an album of blue-eyed soul with The Hot Stuff, guitarist Eric Campuzano pursued a Flying Saucer Attack direction with his drone project Charity Empressa, and bass player Jason 71 continued The Foundationís Beach Boy fetish through the excellent feedback-drenched pop of Eskimohunter. What did lead vocalist (a drummer by trade) Wayne Everett do? He went on to record a solo album under his own name. And also unsurprisingly, itís great.
Where The Lassie Foundationís albums seemed to scream of summer and beaches through a combination of both lyrical subjects and a hyper-kinetic poppiness that brought to mind images of choppy waves and surfing, Kingsqueens takes on the slightly more laidback feel of the Foundationís last effort, channeling the same subject matter through a slightly more relaxed lens. The sweet, screeching feedback is gone, allowing room for every melody, harmony, and instrument to breathe. The opener, ďA Million Leaves,Ē is as perfect a pop song as youíre likely to hear this year, and it's one of the sweetest-natured love songs Iíve ever heard. Built on double-tracked acoustic guitars and a simple drumbeat, the song gives Wayne Everett a chance to show off his voice, a sweet, relaxed tenor that, in addition to the beautiful lyrics, conveys a sense of peaceful wistfulness that carries through the entire song. By the time the bridge, filled with gentle horns and clarinets, arrives, youíre completely sold on the song (if you werenít already).
ďI Can See JailĒ continues the relaxed vibe using a simple drum machine beat and some palm-muted electric guitars that subtly keep the rhythm of the song until a shimmering organ and faux-strings are added, while ďCominí Round AgainĒ takes out most of the guitar in favor of upbeat piano chords and flute before some funky and relaxed horns hit on the chorus. Unlike some bands that use their horns for extra flash (Beulah, for instance), Everett is simply content to let the horns be part of the song. ďMor FarĒ is perhaps the most rocking track on the album, letting the electric guitars strut a bit by adding some fuzz and using what sounds like a gospel choir (although none is listed in the liner notes) as background vocals.
It would be tempting to describe every single track on this album, as theyíre all so good that itís nearly a crime that this hasnít received wider distribution. Amazing work. Do yourself a favor and pick this up as soon as possible. (By the way, in the time since The Lassie Foundation review was written, the boys have decided to reform and are planning to release both an album and an EP in the near future.)
Wayne Everett (Homepage)
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