- Robert Ascroft
- Kid Congo Powers impresses with a long and storied rock ‘n’ roll résumé. He’ll be hitting The Side Door with his band, The Pink Monkey Birds, on June 4.
If you’re a music fan from Colorado, you should certainly be aware of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, as they’re easily one of the most dynamic and inspired acts ever to emerge from the state. Over the years, the Denver-founded, sometimes spread-across-the-country band’s sound has experimented with raucous country, gospel, punk and folk stylings, while their most recent effort, the 2016 LP The Commandments According to SCAC, frequently found them exploring darker and more mysterious sonic territories.
Though the worlds they build on their records are great and immersive (a cross-country road trip listening to Always Say Please and Thank You and Cipher truly does strange, ecstatic things to one’s brain), it’s in live performance that things really kick into high gear. Co-frontmen Slim Cessna and Munly Munly each possess a unique, one might even say formidable charisma, but their interplay is impossible to ignore — their spirited harmonies, counterpoint and bizarre dance steps are sure to produce bewilderment in outsiders and euphoria in faithful fans. The rest of the band is equally impressive to watch, with Lord Dwight Pentacost and Rebecca Vera cycling through a multitude of instruments over the feverish bass and drums of George Cessna and Andrew Warner.
In Kid Congo Powers, you find a man with one of the best résumés in rock ’n’ roll, providing his formidable guitar talents to The Cramps, The Gun Club and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at various points — as well as contributing to albums by Angels of Light, Mark Eitzel and many others. Since 2009, Powers has fronted The Pink Monkey Birds, releasing four LPs with the group.
Powers’ lyrical imagery is about as hallucinatory as you’d expect from an album centered on the “Great Spider Goddess of Teotihuacan.” click to tweetThe Pink Monkey Birds’ latest album, 2016’s La Araña es La Vida, is as good a starting point as any for the uninitiated. The record was self-produced by the band and recorded in, of all places, a high school gym in Harveyville, Kansas. Perhaps as a result, the propulsive rhythms of bassist Kiki Solis and drummer Ron Miller carry a crunchy, feral garage-rock stomp rarely heard outside Blue Cheer records, while the dueling guitars of Powers and Mark Cisneros provide alternately psychedelic and rootsy textures. Powers’ lyrical imagery is about as hallucinatory as you’d expect from an album centered on the “Great Spider Goddess of Teotihuacan,” but as titles like “Karate Monkey” and “Nine Mile Blubber Pile” imply, it’s not a fearful trip.
Finally, a new single has arrived courtesy of Inaiah Lujan, of Haunted Windchimes and in/PLANES renown. “I’m Away,” which is available at a pay-what-you-want price point from Lujan’s Bandcamp page, is not only a nice preview of a forthcoming full-length solo release, but it supports a good cause. Proceeds from the single will be donated to the nonprofit Hi, How Are You Project to assist their efforts in mental health awareness, research and education.
It’s both a worthy contribution and one that’s close to the core of the song’s subject matter, as the track was inspired by a Rolling Stone article profiling the late Scott Hutchison, the frontman of Scottish indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, who committed suicide in 2018.
In the statement accompanying the track’s release, Lujan elaborated:
“This is a touchy subject, and in some respects culturally taboo — being someone who deals on-and-off with depression and has contemplated suicide, it felt important to me to draw from my own experience of those dark and seemingly hopeless times, in hopes to shed some light on the mindset one faces when thoughts of suicide take hold.”
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