Album review: KICKHUNTER – Southern Kicks

Kickhunter - Southern Kicks

Phoenix[Release date 2014]

Kickhunter are the kind of band that makes you realize globalization is right here on your door step. Hailing from Hamburg, they are essentially a southern rock band with classic rock influences and have have toured with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Deep Purple and Molly Hatchet.

They aim for pedal to the metal kick ass rocking but ultimately their big production numbers rely too heavily on gospel style backing vocals to make up for some obvious arrangements and derivative songs.

But when they do rock out, they sparkle in a classic rock meets southern rocking vein. The band who feature JC Wesenberg on vocals, Stefan Aurel and Matthias Lange on guitars, rely on AC/DC meets Whitesnake style influences with a big helping of southern rock.

They certainly have the harmonies and musicianship to cross over, but they are ultimately let down by the songs, which too often are rescued by a guitar break or big gospel bv’s from Melanie Black & Ela.

They double up the harmonies and explore recycled riffs on ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’, on a powerful production that is everything the opening track should have been.

‘Shy Shy Shy’ has a good time Faces feel with a big vocal wall of sound and a barrel-house piano over some soaring bv’s  and ‘Shine’ is a big sounding ballad with a gospel feel that suddenly shifts into big finale in the blink of an eye.

So far so good, but then they stumble into Quo’s ‘Caroline’, which reduces their already formulaic style to the realms of karaoke, while ‘Secretary Blues’ is both clichéd and instantly forgettable, save for an unexpected organ solo from Jean Jaques Kravetz.

The sweeping ballad ‘Feels Like Home’ is a much better and they are happiest on the riff driven ‘Aint Got Nothin’ Better’, the AC/DC influenced ‘Mine All Mine’, the power ballad ‘Good To Be Alive’ and best of all the frenetic ‘Boogie’.

You suspect vocalist JC Wesenberg might struggle without the bv’s as he doesn’t quite have the depth and range to nail southern rock. He’s much better on ‘Child Of Love’, a surprisingly cool groove, and the sub Iggy Pop/Bowie inflected ‘Call My Name’.

‘Southern Kicks’ is an uneven album that doesn’t quite have the songs to match it’s classy production, but when they do rock out, you can see why Kickhunter probably went down well in front of Skynyrd and Purple fans. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra

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