Album review: LITTLE RED KINGS – Callous

 LITTLE RED KINGS - Callous

Bandcamp [Release date 12.04.18]

Little Red Kings, hailing from Norwich, have been around since 2011 and thanks to a fellow music fan on Facebook I was made aware of them. Glad they did as I have been missing a treat on this band!

Little Red Kings consist of Jason Wick (vocals, guitar), John Pallister (keys, vocals), Harry Wickham (drums), Dougie Archer (guitar) and Ben Beach (bass).

This is the second album from the band and boy is it a belter! Little Red Kings have their roots in the 70′s blues rock of Free and there are hints of the Black Crowes, the pop rock sensibilities of Gun, the Foo Fighters pace, even the Answer on ‘A Lovers Tragedy’. They have such a variety of songs on here from the up and at ‘em chorus of ‘Josephine’, an instant hit on the ears, through to the laid back ‘Southern France’, Little Red Kings know their way around a good melody.

Jason Wick has that soulful singing style that can be silky smooth one minute, then off soaring into the stratosphere, ably demonstrated on ‘Rigor And Roll’, which also features a tasty guitar solo. Loving album closer ’1967′ a simple yet effective song with Jason Wick’s almost gospel like vocal coupled with a electric guitar.

‘Chaperone’ builds nicely from the piano/keys intro from John Pallister to a Foo Fighters’ approved riff and a rock solid rhythm section. Loving the spacey keys midway through before the song kicks off again. One of the instant songs on the album and one that would sound good in a live setting.

Harry Wickham manages to sneak in a quick drum solo on ‘No Friend Of Mine’ – not heard a electronic drum solo like that since Queen’s Roger Taylor on ‘The Game’ album.

At sixteen songs sometimes an album can seem perhaps too full, not so here bar maybe opener ‘Prelude’. With the likes of Inglorious, Bad Touch, the Temperance Movement et al gaining traction and interest Little Red Kings deserve their time in the limelight based on ‘Callous’. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Jason Wick tells us more about the recording of ‘Callous’, live highlights to date and more…

Could you take us through the recording process for ‘Callous’ – how the songs developed, stories behind some of the songs etc.

I have always been very interested in recording and messed about with making music for myself and other people at home or in rented studios, but in 2016 I decided to put together my own studio (Goatpen Studios). One of the first projects we recorded in it was this album ‘Callous’. We wanted it to have a sound, something like the classic British rock albums of the 70′s but with modern elements, a live’ish feel and not too messed with in the mix .

We tracked as a 5 piece about 20 of our songs we knew well over 3 days. We placed guitar cabs, Hammond organ, bass cab etc in various different rooms and booths to minimise bleed because we just weren’t sure how much of it we were going to be able to use and wanted options later down the road. In the finish we kept all the drum takes as they were, no click tracks and definitely no drum replacement samples, same with the bass, just a few drop in’s.

We tracked a fair amount of Hammond organ and guitars again because I really wanted to experiment with different amps sounds and mic placements. Most guitars on the album are a mix of 2,3 or 4 mics set around the room at different distances. Songs like ‘Meth Mouth Blues’ are predominately all distance mics placed up high and away from the amps. In the end we were able to squeeze 16 of the songs onto a CD album and went for 17 for the digital release, the CD is literally full up!.

Every song on the album has a story, they all mean something to me lyrically. ‘Southern France’ I wrote after driving through Spain and France and reflect the things I saw. It’s about how you don’t have to choose between giving up or hurting yourself by trying harder, there is another way. ‘A Lovers Tragedy’ was written after seeing a series of very moving photographs taken of a sex worker. I wrote ’1967′ for my partner. It was far from finished but I set up an amp and a couple of mics and afterwards thought ”I like it as it is”, so it made its way on to the album. I won’t bore you all with every song, and I could literally talk forever about the recording process but as I say I don’t want to bore anyone!!

Describe Little Red Kings music for someone who has not heard it…

Well its mostly a kind of roots based rock, elements of British blues and 70′ rock for sure but with modern elements. The album is such a mix I find it hard to pin down. Not every song on the album fits one genre, we just don’t write or play like that, I guess because we don’t have to. But I quite like the term’ Roots Rock’

What have been the live highlights for the band to date and why?

So many highlights, so many lowlights!, We played Phoenix Festival in Cirencester last year, great gig and sold out of CD’s front of stage after the gig. I think we cleared around 80 discs before we finally left the festival. That was a highlight for sure. Also we just headlined a local venue to us ‘Open’ in Norwich. It was the first gig we had our new album for sale at so that felt really good. There has been many highlights over the years all made possible by lovely people. Most of my highlights have been tiny small moments that have made me smile.

In an ideal world which bands would you like to share a stage with and why?

I’d like to hop on the same stage as Humble Pie or Free. Truthfully I’d rather just watch than have to play near those guys.

How did you get involved in the Under 1 Riff charity CD?

Under 1 Roof is a charity owned and run by St Martins. Offering support for vulnerable adults who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. We got asked by them to play a gig a couple of years ago. I was personally impressed with the staff and the work they did so when they asked us to donate a track for a fundraising album they were putting together (Under 1 Riff), I also offered to record their in house band here at the studio and also to compile and master the CD for them. We are playing another gig for them early July 2018 as an album launch for the under 1 Riff CD.

Where would Little Red Kings like to be this time next year?

That’s tough, there has been a lot of time, work, heart, and soul put into this band and this album. I’m really very proud of the album so looking ahead I just want it heard as far and wide and by as many as possible. As for live performances, we hope the crowds continue to grow. That’s all any band wants.

Message for your fans…

Thank you for your continued support and we always say ‘tell a friend’ :)


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Power Plays w/c 17 September 2018

THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Try As I Might (KScope)
JAWBONE Two Million Heartbeats (indie)
BAD TOUCH Hammer Falls (Marshall Records)
SARI SCHORR Thank You (Manhaton)
MALLEN Polarity (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 17 September (Mon-Fri)

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12:00-13:00 FEDERAL CHARM Passenger (indie)
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Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

18:00-19:00 JOURNEY Raised On Radio (1986)



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