Today I got an email from Kevin Lynn, who has played bass in King Cobb Steelie in all of its incarnations over the past 20 odd years. It was a one-liner:
“Here’s a streaming link to the new KCS EP due out next week. Enjoy!”
I’ve been in touch with Kevin a few times over the years. I interviewed him for The Ruckus (my olde podcaste series), and have periodically annoyed him with questions like “When is KCS doing something?” Well, the band saw fit to reform last year to do some shows and reissue their 90s masterpiece Project Twinkle. That must have got the old creative juices flowing again, as here we are a year later with a hot new EP called Goodbye Arcadia.
Not sure if they’re talking about that Duran Duran side project, but whatever.
The EP is tight, folks. It sounds like KCS, in the best possible way. For those unfamiliar with that means, here’s a lowdown.
Their self-titled debut album (on Toronto indie label, Raw Energy, 1993) was very much a rock record. It experimented a bit with electronics and some sampling, but it was mostly guitars and banging drums.
The next year, the band went BOOM, connected with a major label (big news in those days), and released Project Twinkle. Very heavy dub influence, more electro-experimentation, and still a lot of guitars. This is (so far) the band’s critical masterpiece.
In 1997, they released Junior Relaxer, which continued the sonic themes of Twinkle, but in a slightly more straightforward fashion.
In 2000, my favourite KCS record, Mayday, hit store shelves. I saw this as a great step forward in terms of production and some really great integration between the rock and electronic forces that seemed to duke it out over the past few records. However, this was KCS’s last real kick at the can. After a decade of giving it their all, they decided to pack it in and move on to other things.
A revamped and simplified version of KCS released Destroy All Codes in 2004. It was all instrumental, and not exactly what I’d call a “real KCS” record. It was ok, but didn’t have the same vibe as the earlier records.
Now, with this Goodbye Arcadia, King Cobb Steelie are giving it another go. And they’re in fine form. 3 songs (plus a remix of the first track) means there’s not a lot to choose from, but this will please the old fans. The first cut, Dead Heart Colonies, is a bonafide rock song. Very straight up, loud. In fact, it’s downright poppy, with a great singalong chorus that hasn’t exactly been their trademark. Dammit, it’s a fun song.
Le Monde Rien is a bit more mellow, more in keeping with their Mayday record. Some great electronics make this one shine, and the drumming is very Bonham-esque.
The title track, Goodbye Arcadia, also sticks with the KCS sound. It’s clangy and dreamy. Well, it is until guest vocalist Mike Haliechuk (Fucked Up) joins in. His guttural wail stands out. It’s the only thing about the song I don’t particularly like, but you can get past it pretty quickly. This one extends into a long textured jam (8 minutes of it) with some killer layers of guitar and feedback.
The EP finishes off with a continuation/remix of Dead Heart Colonies, which provides a matching bookend to the start of the EP. Very cool to hear another take on the song, but not entirely necessary.
For the fans who’ve been waiting to hear some new KCS tunes, you’ll be thrilled with this EP. You can pick it up on December 12, 2013.
More info: www.kingcobbsteelie.net .
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