[Release date 01.04.17]
Kicking and screaming is a pretty apt summation of this self-released release from Canadian duo Kendra Gale (guitar/vocals) and Warren Beatteay (drums).
With five previous albums under her belt, this being the third under the ‘Band’ banner, there’s no arguing that Gale is a considerable vocal force, in the blues/rock mold personified by Janis Joplin all those years ago. And Beatteay is no slouch in the tub thumping stakes either.
But my main issue is not with what’s presented here – a generous 16 tracks – but what’s missing.
It boils down to three things – firstly, the limitations of just a trusty Gibson, played with a choppy rhythm style, and set of drums. There’s nothing to fill the sound out – not even any lead guitar lines, just some backing vocals and handclaps.
So there’s no hiding place. Now, you might get away with that if you’ve got a bludgeoning production, say like Royal Blood. But Kicking And Screaming is a pretty much ‘plug in and play, live in the studio’ recording with a relatively clean guitar sound.
Then there’s the material. It’s decent, in fact, it’s good. Very good. But it needs more flesh on the bones to take it to the next level. Presented as a set of demos, it could make one hell of an album in the hands of the right production team and support players.
I was struck by the similarity – vocal and song construction wise – to a band in another Sydney on the other side of the planet. Suze DeMarchi’s Baby Animals – the parallels are uncanny.
So while Alive And Kicking meets its aim of capturing what KGB audiences might hear live, for me it’s a missed opportunity. Gale’s vocals are some of the best pop/rock I’ve heard in a long time, and the promise clear for all to see, for example, ‘Noise In The Dark’ where harmony vocals provide some element of light and shade, is a real calling card. But for now, for me at least, Kicking And Screaming is ‘work in progress’. ***
Review by Pete Whalley
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