October 23, 2010

King Khan and His Shrines What Is?!
garage-rock, soul, psych-rock


The garage-rock revival scene, with all of its assorted offshoots, subgenres and crossovers, has plenty of players, movers and shakers. In terms of quality of output, some have been more successful that others, but the fact is that King Khan and his sensational Shrines succeed more than pretty much any of them. What Is?!, the nine-piece outfit’s third album, sees the group elevating their killer blend of boozy garage-rock, psychedelic leanings and sensual, love-machine soul to the highest possible level, making for their finest personal effort and a guaranteed lock for the canon of garage-rock classics. Immediate impact is always a blessing on these kinds of albums, and this one opens incredibly strongly, with the blazing, bare-chested machismo of “Outta Harm’s Way”, the hilarious and hard-rocking full-disclosure of “I Wanna Be a Girl” and the groovy, garage-soul cut “Welfare Bread”, the track most seem King Khan and His Shrines - What Is?!to pick as the album’s key highlight. The sheer number of hits littered throughout the remainder is equally impressive, though, with speed-garage cuts like “Land of the Freak” and “No Regrets” (a personal favourite) interlaced between psychedelic sex-cult serenades like “69 Faces of Love”, “Cosmic Serenade” and “The Ballad of Lady Godiva”. King Khan himself is one of those larger than life rock stars, whose showmanship, attitude and massive personality make him a crucial component in the quest to keep rock music’s old-school theatricality alive and kicking. He fits the role beautifully, although in a somewhat unlikely manner – shirtless, cape-clad, beer-swilling and pot-bellied, he bellows his sexed-up lyrics (which would sound sleazy if he didn’t come across as such a fun-loving charmer) with furious abandon and limitless energy, making him feel like a cross between James Brown, Iggy Pop and the local drunkard. Hail to the King, baby!