Smoke Follows Beauty
Molten hot Los Angeles trio, Smoke, firmly establish themselves as world-class contenders on this their second recorded outing. Originally slated to be another 3 track EP, the sessions turned out to be so potent, they decided to make it into a full-length sludgefest. Simply, and somewhat tonguein-cheek, titled “Smoke Follows Beauty” the disc pushes their stoner mantras on nine fist-pumping rockers. “Here It Comes” lays the haze thick and green - a murky fuzzed out stomp rivaled only by third track in; “Splitfire”.
Smoke creates a psychedelic experience that lashes out under a punishing backbeat. Listen to “Devil Down” and pay particular attention to the guitar work. Singer/Guitarist Marc Star formerly of mid-90's LA fuzz-rock outfit Thunderfuck 69, carves out a deep groove that etches through your brain in a winding hypnotic pattern. Together with bassist Yosh and drummer Dan, the three make the kind of dirty rock and roll that means something.
Every track on this monster is thicker than mixed concrete and sets up just as fast. “Hallucination”, “Black Cat” and “Caveman” all find just the right nerve to cuddle up next to but it’s the instrumental “Mina’s Song” that cooks in the furnace. Dark and brooding it eclipses the wooly vibe surrounding it and moves to a higher conscience.
Closing track “Redux” is a stellar, doomed-out ambient studio sidewinder that echoes around the room. Complete with obscure film samples and hazy tripped out frequencies the song lays down and inhales.
Smoke Follows Beauty was produced by LA Weekly Music Award Winner Bobby Tamkin (Xu Xu Fang, Hovercraft, The Warlocks, 1000 Mona Lisas) who uses his conceptual expertise to turn this CD into a definitive collection of outstanding tunes. The 55-minute CD goes beyond the expected amped-up sophomore and delivers on all levels.
Running one song into another makes the disc a massive sonic feast. Check out “Hallucination” on their download page for a taste of some of the beauty. All Smoke art by Troy Montamble.
Denim-clad New York rockers Kung Pao have been kicking around 'The Big Apple' since early 1999. Known as International beer smugglers, they travel the world in their Crack Van, searching for tube-tops and raspberry Lipsmackers and occasionally find some. Chovie D is the vocals guy who also plays guitar. Davey D plays the drums as well as adding vocals. T.B. chews it up on the bass and throws in a vocal here and there.
Kung Pao's new full length CD, "Sheboygan", is readily available from Maduro Records and flat out kicks ass - 11 new thunder-packed songs for your listening enjoyment. This is easily some of the heaviest rock we’ve heard in a while. “Hotpockets”, “Go Frenchie Go”, “Truckstop” and “Dolby Surround” fish at the bottom of the pond slow, thick and oh so deep. Then there’s the lyrics spilling over with high school humor. Check out “Truckstop” to get a tiny glimpse into the world that is Kung Pao.
The band have an awesome way of working with feedback. Their recording techniques at times seems crude and rudimentary but then slams clean as with “Dolby Surround” and “Like Leprechaun.” “Freeballin’ USA” comes across like a poorly recorded audience tape then kicks into high gear and totally devastates your speakers. The French got it right when they wrote, “Vroom, vroom, vroom, la meute d'harleys est au maximun de son impatience.”
One dedicated fanzine wrote this about attending a Kung Pao show:
“You show up to the club a little earlier than usual. Your friend's band isn’t gong on ‘till much later but you wanted to get drunk. So you amble over to the bar. Halfway into your fourth (or was it your fifth?) round, three guys dressed head to toe in denim take the stage. This must be Kung Pao.”
“The space in front of the stage is starting to fill up. You decide to abandon your perch at the bar and join the fray. The girl next to you who you were making half-drunken passes at just told you she's waiting for her boyfriend “who’s the bouncer here" anyhow. Hint taken. Kung Pao is just what you needed after that snub.”
“Then it hits you - full-bore sludge metal, riff-centric, bong-headed bliss. You're thinking “it’s TAD without the fat guy”, no wait “it's Unsane without the skronk noise filler”. You abandon the mental comparisons and loose yourself in the moment. A fellow stumbling, dancing drunken bastard knocks into you with a full pint glass. You don't care. Your both whooping it up and high-fiving like a couple of high-school knuckleheads between every songs.”
“Kung Pao finish up their set, sweat soaked clean thru their wranglers. You’re, drunk, happy, and hoarse from yelling and head for the door. But not before gladly handing the band with the requisite “killer set man, you guys kick ass!” Only this time you actually mean it. After plunking down your last bit of cash for their disc, you hesitate at the exit. Weren't you supposed to catch your buddy's band? Ah fuck him! You just saw the REAL show of the night.”
Carbon 14, issue #19