Album review: KINGS OF THE QUARTER MILE – Whatever It Takes Is What I’ve Got

Pete Feenstra chatted to Pete Juzl guitarist of Kings Of The Quarter Mile for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio.  First broadcast 21 March 2021.

Kings Of The Quarter Mile  - Whatever It Takes I've Got

Retroflector Records [Release date 29.01.21]

Kings Of The Quarter Mile hail from Worcester in the UK. It’s a point worth emphasizing, as they play psychedelic tinged roots rock into Americana with a tip of the hat to the mid-80’s Paisley Underground sound, (think psychedelic tinged jangling guitars and lyrics shot through with a hint of British grit).

It’s an album built on strong songs with evocative narratives, inspired playing and a meticulous attention to detail, from the layered sound to nuanced harmonies.

The band is clearly the sum of its parts, with a focused attention to musical detail that splendidly mirrors their lyrical depth.

They tap into an Americana aesthetic from the name of the band itself – which sparks drag racing imagery – through the album art work by guitarist Pete Juzl, to the music itself.

They interweave jangling guitars, piano and organ to evoke a West Coast psychedelic feel. The narratives frequently set a scene which the band then colour with exhilarating interplay and inspired solos.

Seasoned listeners might spot an array of influences, but it’s the way the band moulds them to their own ends to create a sense of flow that consistently impresses.

And if the marketing of contemporary music has veered towards one track downloads, this album offers the best of both words, being the coherent sum of its parts, while also producing several catchy songs that have thus far generated 3 singles.

They open with a significant tremolo sound before slipping into in some nifty Knopfler style picking on the Steve Counsell penned ‘The Lie’.

The reflective lyrics set the tone for the album as a whole: “Back in the day, when he could say that world was his to own. When the land was green and the rivers flowed, then a man could reap what he had sown.”

And they update that with the sting in the tale: They tell us global warming is a lie.”

It’s the perfect opener that plays to their strengths of an undulating melody, great harmonies with Jenny Curtis’ intuitive bv’s and Simon moth’s uplifting piano.

Much like the Counsell penned ‘Cross The Line’, with its big country feel, it’s the Long Ryders recycled, but with impeccable songs.

You will be hard pushed to differentiate between the 6 Counsell and 4 Juzl penned songs.  They are stylistically different, but still carry the band’s essential DNA which lives and breathes the Americana genre.

Refreshingly, they wisely eschew the worst Nashville elements of sentimentality and cliché.

The lyrics on ‘The Ticket’ for example, paint an evocative picture that would be the perfect catalyst for a video, sparked by some wonderful wah wah and a contrasting clean-toned solo over a nuanced organ sweep:  “The situation tripped you, life slips by so fast, and she looks up to the sky, the rain washed clean the past.”

There’s also a wistful feel and lightness of touch that amplifies the band oeuvre perfectly.

‘Louisa’ digs deeper into songcraft, on a dark theme cushioned by jangling guitars and organ, while ‘Bluebird’ is a contemporised form of Soulful that wouldn’t be out of place on a Monophonics album.

Predicated on a sludgy stuttering rhythm and heartfelt vocal, it flows into the radio friendly hook, complete with Ernie Isley style phased guitar inflections.

‘Whatever It Takes Is What I’ve Got’ lives up to its defiant title, and makes the most of an excellently sequenced album that thrives on contrast.

It’s all glued together by magically interwoven guitar parts and a perfect rhythm section of bassist Brian Richards and drummer Dave Smaylen who lock into the grooves, while Simon Moth switches from piano to organ to bring a richer colour to the album.

They slip into a wonderful dreamy groove on ‘Drunk’, the keyboard part of which would surely make Steve Miller smile, while the extended ‘Soldier Girl’ could be Buffalo Springfield  and more specifically Neil Young.

They are more concise on the catchy ‘Springsteen’, their latest single, which is another snapshot of what they do so well.

‘Whatever It Takes Is What I’ve Got’ strikes the perfect balance between its painstaking creation and sounding fresh and organic enough to capture a ‘live in the studio spark’.

It’s an album that doesn’t so much pay homage to an era gone by, as draw on the past to spark new songs with real substance. The wholesome melodies and good hooks are fashioned by a ‘can-do-spirit’ that will surely take them a long way.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra.

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 March 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 23 March 2021.

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