Deutschland - Kevin K (Kicking Records)
If it feels like Kevin K albums are falling out of the sky like rain, remember that we're in a rock and roll drought, compared to the '70s and '80s. The walls are closing in, not tumbling down and we need stuff like this like Kim Fowley needs fame. So be thankful for another small mercy and the 18th studio effort under the Kevin K moniker.
"Deutschland" is something of a concept album, inspired by Bowie and Iggy's Berlin LPs ("Low and "Lust For Life" respectively.) It was meant to be recorded in Berlin at Hansa-By-The-Wall Studio but finances didn't allow, so Kevin and his European touring band settled for a French stone cottage full of ghosts.
Their intention was to make us feel like we're sitting in a smoke-filled cafe in the Schoneberg district of Berlin at 3am and it succeeds, even if the club owners would probably be playing bad techno these days. The trademark Kevin K, old school, New York punk, gutter/street guitar grit is ever-present, but it's laced with generous serves of synth. Fear not - it's very different from any of its predecessors but these trimmings work in its favour.
"Intrusive" opens with keening synth that steps aside for the surge of chugging guitars. There's a neat keyboard melody line but for the most part it's top order guitar rock. "American Sector" follows the same path, with keys setting the scene and providing a pulsing throb in the back of the soundscape as guitars and Kevin K's sharp vocal go to work.
"How Many Times" recalls the "Magic Touch" album with its washes of strings and subtle harmonica providing texture against the barbed-wire guitars. There's a killer melody at the heart of this one and a reminder that Kevin writes superb tunes.
The trio of "She Is No Fun", "Poland" and "Wrong Girl" mine more familiar territory before "Kim" takes things out on a limb with rolling tom-toms and buzz-bomb guitar presaging a big, heavy chorus. "The Red Headed Girl" and "The Wall Came Tumbling Down" are rockers, the closing title track a synth-laden spoken work piece Velvets rhythm, a la "All Tomorrow's Parties."
The playing's great: Detroit-based ex-Trash Brat and current Bootsey X and the Lovemasters member Ricky Rat and Kevin indulge in some meaty six-string interplay with bassist Ritchie Buzz playing a strong role in arranging the left-field songs.
A collection of 10 terrific Teutonic tunes.