Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds

Dracula Boots

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Kid Congo Powers is a bona fide rock roll legend even if he isn’t a household name. A founding member of the Gun Club with Jeffrey Lee Pierce, he’s also played with the Cramps, Nick Cave the Bad Seeds, and Barry Adamson on Moss Side Story. He’s done some other things, such as co-fronted the great but underrated and moody Congo Norvell project with Sally Norvell, but to his credit, before Dracula Boots, he’s issued only one other album under his own name even though he’s had a compilation released of his work with other people. He is the non-guitar hero’s guitar hero: he’s never been flashy, preferring a very basic approach to playing garage rock, blues, Chicano rock, and swamp. Dracula Boots is so utterly gritty and nasty that it could have come from the Detroit scene, the one that spawned the Dirtbombs, the Henchmen, and Andre Williams' later work. On his MySpace page he lists “Soul Finger” by the Bar-Kays as an influence, and that’s not far off here. The difference is that while this is nasty butt-shaking funk, it’s as if it were being played by Link Wray with a ‘60s low-rider East L.A. garage band backing Williams. The grooves are hot, butt-shaking, and funky, but they don’t contain loads of breakbeats, rubbery basslines, or faux James Brown shouts. Congo may be the frontman, but while he vocalizes, he doesn’t sing. He simply growls or snarls his words out, or offers them in a tortured teenaged fuzz rock bravado whisper. Bassist Kiki Solis is the anchor; the bass is ever up-front on these tracks, leading the firebrand charge. The tunes are primitive, often two or three chords drenched in tinny reverb, Ron Miller's organ, a stripped trap kit, and of course Congo's knife-edged, purposely sloppy guitar work. Highlights on this set include “Funky Fly,” which sounds like its title; the frenetic “Hitchhiking,” which takes the riff from “I Don’t Need No Doctor” to horrific depths; and “Bobo Boogie,” a cut so utterly infectious that the listener will be tempted to put it on endless repeat. Dracula Boots is a nice return to rock roll basics from one of its most trusted and underappreciated practitioners. ~ Thom Jurek, Rovi

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