Have a quick noodle, find the riff and go!
Review by Gary Cordwell
Release date: 12 June 2015
The final track on Palace Of The Kings debut album pretty much says it all – ‘If It Ain’t Broke’. And Hell, it’s certainly worked for the rest of the album – have a quick noodle, find the riff and go! Four or so minutes of funky rocking ending with a big finish and a squall of feedback. “Don’t mess with it, don’t go changing things” shrieks vocalist Tim Henwood and, as if to hammer the point home, the band groove unashamedly on the riff for a good few minutes.
So, this Australian six piece formed in 2012, have already released two EPs and a vinyl-only LP, and now here comes White Bird/Burn The Sky, a ten track, forty-four-minute slab of full-on retro rock. Unfortunately this ‘stick to what we’re good at’ ethic makes for short reviews as there is little variation in the music or focal track to comment upon, but Lordy, they do they do very well indeed!
Opening track ‘Take Your Medicine’ sets the scene nicely – a bit of percussion ushers in a suitably funky riff which in turn introduces Henwoods sleazy, somewhat Bon Scott-style vocals. The defiantly 70’s keyboards are a nice touch, upfront and adding that extra layer of richness and texture and the solo, when it arrives, is loose, fuzzy and cocksure
And that’s pretty much the story for the next nine tracks. Songs often mellow out for a midsection doodle, sometimes acoustic and bluesy, other times a bit of a psychedelic jam, before intensity builds and the riff elbows its way back in. Heavier moments recall Purple and Zep in full flight. There are flashes of blues harp, moments of Aerosmith shimmy and, at one point on ‘Leave Me Behind’, a very 80’s sax solo! I haven’t heard one of those in many a moon!
But mostly it’s straight to the point, down to business soulful rock music. Its not-so-secret weapons being the Jon Lord influenced keyboards – resolutely 70’s but somehow utterly contemporary – and the fact that these boys know how to get down as much as they do rock out. This album is seriously funky – not 80’s Extreme funk rock, but sleazy 70’s loon pant wearing funk. The Stones – both Rolling and Sly – are an influence. This disc is shot through with a genuine loose-limbed slinkiness, it grooves effortlessly.
So, yeah, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. A maxim for this band and Aussie rock in general – Jimmy Barnes, Rose Tattoo, AC/DC (natch) – none of these guys were ever going to give us an acid folk/ballet art installation and, to be fair, we wouldn’t want them to. They know us and we know what to expect from them, they’re all stripped to the bone and to the point so I guess I’d better be too. This album is good. Buy it.
8 out of 10
- Take Your Medicine
- No Chance In Hell
- Another Thing Coming
- Burn My Bridges
- White Bird (Bring Your Armies Against Me)
- Ain’t Got Nobody To Blame But Myself
- Leave Me Behind
- Devil’s Daughter
- Get Back Up (Burn The Sky)
- If It Ain’t Broke