Archive for the ‘Kings of Spade’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KINGS OF SPADE-Kings of Spade (2014).

This follow up to Kings of Spade’s debut album.  They describe it as

High energy, shameless dancing, foot-stomping Rock’n’Roll! Dedicated to all the freaks, queers, strange birds, rule breakers and all who dare to be different.

That’s pretty accurate.  The band seems to have really found their groove.  There’s fewer experiments but the ones they employ are solid and the whole album is pretty great from start to finish.

“This Child” opens with a cool echoing riff and  big power chords as Kasi Nunes sings the catchy chorus:

yes you buy me dresses
but i play with guns
swing for the fences
aint gonna tame this child

There’s some interesting electronic sounds swirling around but they are more for texture than actual song creation.  “San Antonie” is a classic-rock-sounding/blues riffing song.  It’s funny to think of someone from Hawaii singing about taking a train to San Antoine.

“Bottoms Up” is a heavier riff-based song with echoed vocals. Kasi’s delivery is a bit more rap-like but nothing as deliberate as on the previous album.  And she still wails.  The song includes scratch artistry by DJ PACKO.  As with the other songs, there’s a really scorching guitar solo from Jessie Savio.

“Sweet” is a slower song with kind of sultry vocals from Kasi.  “Lost” returns to that power-blues style but the second half of the song gets into a really fast riffing–it’s practically a second song.

“Take Me” is a nearly 7 minute workout.  It’s almost a disco bass line from Tim Corker but then around four minutes it slows down into a kind of bluesy solo section with Kasi really showing off her vocal chops.  “Way She Goes’ is a great song–a story song about Kasi trying to pick someone up.  But it’s the distorted falsetto of the chorus that really hooks the song–that and the terrific riff in the chorus.  Half way through the song slows down to a kind of reggae vibe–just keeping things interesting.

“Ronda Rousey” is dedicated to the fighter.  The night I saw them live Ronda was playing the next night (she lost).  Regardless of Rousey herself, this song kicks major ass.  It’s heavy and stomping and the chorus is awesome:

now you’re here cross my corner and i warned ya
and im giving you the fight of my life
no escape from what your feelin
i got an itch to get inside
come on let’s get it on

The way it shifts gear during the repeating of “come on, let’s go it on” is pretty cool.

“Strange Bird” is their best song and one of my favorite songs in recent times.  The opening riff–guitar and bass) is pretty simple but it works and when the song pulls back to let Kasi sing her pre-chours (which is terrific) and then leads to the powerful chorus, it’s all a perfectly executed rock song.

Even if the chorus of “rocking to the beat of my own drum” is not original, it works, and that pre-chorus is pure Kasi with her pink mohawk:

strange bird how many colors in your hair
how many people love to stare
strange bird here comes another .

There’s some great drums work on this song by Matt Kato.

It feels like the album should end with that song, it’s such a great climax.  But the final song, “Mess of Me” is no slouch.  It’s a pretty classic blues rocker with some great guitar and Kasi’s soaring vocals.  I would have put it before “Strange Bird,” myself, but it’s still a rocking song.

It’s been almost four years since they put this record out.  I know they’ve been touring the world with King’s X for a pretty long time.  I hope they keep up the great work.

[READ: January 25, 2017] “Why I Broke Up with the Little Mermaid”

Sometimes a very simple premise can be taken too far.  Other times, a simple premise can be cleverly stretched out into variations of the same joke that are all very funny.

This piece is pretty much all stated in the title.  But the reasons why are presented as a dialogue between him and Ariel  . And, the best part is that much of Ariel’s dialogue is quoted from the movie.


Ariel: Look at this stuff! Isn’t it neat?

Me: Not really. What is it?

Ariel: They’re whozamawhats, silly! I got them from a yard sale. (more…)

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I have seen Kings of Spade twice (both times opening for King’s X).  I have never heard of them outside of these shows.  And yet, they seem to have a pretty good following (especially in their native Hawaii).

Their website describes them as “blues rock from Hawaii” and that’s pretty apt.  They certainly groove in the rocking blues.  They are fronted by a fantastic, powerful singer named Kasi Nunes.  She formed the band along with guitarist Jesse Savio.  There’s also drummer Matt Kato, bassist Max Benoit, turntablist DJ A2Z and percussionist Obie 1.

“Crave” opens the disc with some great bluesy grooves and solos all under the power of Nunes’ wail.  “Boys in the Band” is a song they still play and it works great in concert.  The recorded version features a turntablist, which they do not have live.  The song has a cool break where you get to hear Nunes’ voice unaffected as she sings the title.

“Funk” adds some horns, although not a lot of funk, which is fine.  It works more as soul with scratchy wah wah guitars.

“Weight on My Shoulders” is a strange song.  It has the riff and melody of “Crimson and Clover,” a song I don’t really like.  But the lyrics of the chorus focus on the weight of the world being on her shoulders (to the tune of “waitin’ to show her”).  The verses are the big surprise because the song turns into a rap.  Nunes’ flow is pretty good, but it’s more about her lyrics than her delivery.  She raps about growing up and the awkwardness of being a woman at 25.  Nunes is all about women and feminism.

“Keep On” starts with her saying “to the most beautiful, this is from X-Factor (X-Factor was their name before they became Kings of Spade).  This is a groovy song with Nunes’ rapping and the turntablist working away.  There’s more horns as well.  It rocks pretty well, and there are two sections that change the style of the song in an effective way.  I like the end where the song switches tone into a more menacing-sounding thump.

“Move On” rocks along, very catchy and fun with some cool organ underneath the riffage.  Until the middle when it really slows down to a kind of Janis Joplin vein.  The first time i saw them, they played a fantastic version of Piece of My Heart (Nunes hits the marks really well).

I’m not sure if it was well-known that Nunes is a lesbian.  She doesn’t mention it until song 7.  But she’s certainly not hiding the fact because the whole of “Don’t Hate Me” is about her coming out experience.  It’s a powerful tour de force (which is rapped as well) that covers many bases about coming out–parents, classmates, friends, community.  She sings about “growing up a baby dyke” and spending years as “a closet homo” before finally reaching a place where “a hater’s lame opinion can’t cause me any strife.”   I love the metaphor about building

The final song shows off yet another style of the band.  “Secret Lover” is a slow acoustic song with a kind of Spanish feel.  It’s a love song to a secret lover (no one will ever measure up to you) which I can’t decide if it’s awesome or sad (is the secret a good one?).

This is a solid album.  It’s a bit all over the place, trying out different sounds.  They will step things up for their next album (and Kasi will adopt her now-trademark red Mohawk).

[READ: July 26, 2016] “Alice”

This is the life story of a little girl.  It is told by a distant, almost disinterested narrator, and this narrator fits the girls’ life as well.

Living in Australia, Alice had red-gold sausage curls.  She had lovely hair and thick creamy skin and gray-blue eyes.  Her disposition could be summed up as “it is good to be good.”

Her mother was Scottish-born and was irrational, quickly tempered and noisy: “she had no feelings.”

Alice’s mother didn’t regard her at all.  After her mother had two boys, they consumed all of her attention.  Alice became nursemaid and nanny to her brothers. Any problem became Alice’s fault.   And even though people looked at her and admired her, once they realized that this would gain no favor with her mother, they admired her brothers instead. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 15, 2017] Kings X

My friend Sean and I were planning on making it three years in a row seeing King’s X, but he had last minute other plans (which I hope were wonderful).

It was interesting seeing them again (this is 4 times in four years! and three years at Sellersville).  Usually I can’t get good pictures at Sellersville, but either it was brighter, or my new phone is better in the dark.  Either way the photos were much better.

My friend Charles is a huge fan of the band and he warned me the dUg’s voice wasn’t sounding so great.  I thought that last time around, so I was prepared for the worst.  But he sounded okay.  As another friend said, he is 66 years old.  The only real drag about that is that his voice was so amazing that’s it’s a shame he’s lost that instrument’s full range.

But the band itself sounds great and since everyone in the audience is a huge fan, we did a lot of the singing for dUg, anyway.


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[ATTENDED: July 15, 2017] Kings of Spade

Back in November, I saw King’s X and Kings of Spade.  I was more than a little surprised to see that King’s X were coming back to Sellersville and to see that Kings of Spade were opening again (turns out, not again, but still).  The band said that King’s X brought them to Europe, which was pretty exciting for them.

In the last 8 months or so, Kings of Spade have gotten even better.  They were really tight and solid back then, but their rocking songs rocked more and they really had a lot of fun on stage.  I guess 8 months of touring will get you to loosen up a bit.  In fact, when I saw them after the gig–they hung around for autographs again, I told the singer they sounded even better and she said she felt a lot more comfortable up there and danced a lot more–very nice folks.

It was cool seeing how well the bassist Tim Corker and drummer Matt Kato feed off each other–there’s some great rumbling sections in the later songs, with some great, complex drumming and fast bass playing. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 21, 2016] Kings X

2016-11-21-21-23-35A little over a year ago, my friend Sean and I saw King’s X at the Sellersville Theater.  I didn’t know they’d be back again so soon.  I was surprised to see that they were touring the East Coast again and making another stop at the Sellersville Theater.  This time I bought the tickets (and we got row H) to see this great three-piece again.

Sellersville Theater is a small place (although not very conducive to photos).  But the sound is amazing and it feels like the guys are right really close (and they are).

The band had recently posted that they were adding some surprise songs to their set, so while the beginning of the show was similar to last year’s show, there were eight new songs, which was pretty awesome. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 21, 2016] Kings of Spade

kosI hadn’t heard of Kings of Spade before this show.   They are a four piece from Hawaii–billing themselves as blues rock, although they play a lot more.  They make for an interesting looking band.  The bassist (Tim Corkerand) guitarist (Jesse Savio) (not Hawaiian natives) have long beards and look like they’re from the North East (which they are).  The drummer Matt Kato and singer are Hawaiian natives.  Singer Kasi Nunes has a bright red mohawk and a voice to match.

I missed the first song, (it’s an hour to the theater, give me a break), but the band played a solid set after that and boy were they good.

The band plays off of each other really well.  The bass and drums are really tight, keeping time changes and shifts totally spot on.  They have a few songs that absolutely rock out and then stop on a dime to switch to a different genre.  “Way She Goes” is a full barrel rocker until the middle when it shifts to an almost reggae beat.

Overall, their set is full of really catchy grooves and foot-stomping (well, as much as you can when you’re seated).

After a few songs, Savio commented about how different it is playing in a club versus a theater.  I knew they had recently played with King’s X at The Stone Pony.  The Sellersville Theater is about as far as you can get from it–and I’ll take the civilized Sellersville over the rowdy Stone Pony (although it is weird to sit during a rocking show).  He said that the biggest difference was the noise level and alcohol consumption.  And that there were tables here.  But he also said that we were so quiet and respectful during the songs–which was cool, don’t worry–but it was so quiet that he could hear the drummer humming along.  And he never knew the drummer hummed before.  As long as we were loud after the songs (and we were) he was cool with it.

2016-11-21-20-47-15While it’s hard to take your eyes off of Nunes and her giant mohawk, guitarist Savio is a great player to watch. He switches effects–from distortion to wah to some other interesting sounds including a talk box without ever losing the essential feel of his playing–bluesy, grungy bar guitars.  And his soloing is in the bluesy tradition of grooving and not showing off.  It led to some really great jams for a band whose songs are relatively short on record.

And Nunes is much more than her mohawk.  Man, does she have a powerful voice.   Sellersville is a fairly quiet theater anyhow, but there were a few times when she held a note and slowly moved the microphone away but I could still hear her even un-miced.

It was clear that they were having fun.  Nunes introduced a song about losing someone and then Savio played the intro to a different song.  He laughed and said, remember that intro for the next song.  This one is about the War of 1812.

2016-11-21-20-47-26Before introducing their song “Ronda Rousey,” she asked if anyone was into ECW.  A few people cheered and when they asked who would win on Dec 31, they were shocked when the person said Amanda (I didn’t know what they were talking about).  Nunes said that they love Ronda and wrote a song about her.  It rocked.

Some of their songs are super catchy, like the all out rocker “Strange Bird.”  And “Boys in My Band” from thier first record is pretty great, too.

When they were about done, they said they had one song left.  And then retracted that and said that the stage guy was holding up two fingers–two songs.  They apologized and said they’d keep us entertained for 8 minutes (which they did).  Savio said that he’d be anxious to hear King’s X as well–in fact that’s who he’d come to see even though his band was playing.

For the final song, Nunes said she wrote this song in the 70s and they launched into a great cover of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.”  It sounded great.  They got the perfect guitar sound for th esolos and Nunes totally handled the tough task of singing like Janis (although she didn’t do the big scream at the end–save your voce!_)

The band doesn’t even have an entry on Setlist (someone needs to get on that!).  So I don’t know the setlist.  But from listening to their two CDs on bandcamp, I recognize these songs from the show.  Their record is good, but man their live show is tremendous.  Check them out if they play near you–and don’t be late!

2016-11-21-23-15-34They were also nice enough to take a photo with me (I’m not from Hawaii so I couldn’t do the hand gesture).
Boys in My Band
Take Me
Strange Bird
Ronda Rousey
Way She Goes
Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin cover)


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