Flamboyant garage rockers the King Khan & BBQ Show take the lo-fi torch with their infectious new single “Illuminations,” channeling everything from the Byrds to the Troggs.
With a sound like it’s coming out of a home-made radio kit, the song wastes no time on rocking and shouting-singing through its first verse. The bopping beat and melody are taken straight out of an old Love b-side, or perhaps a Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs a-side. (Judging from the guitar duo’s choices in on-stage attire, the later is probably a little closer to the truth.) Either way, you’ll be into the tambourine-shaking, barre-chord strumming fun of it all by the time the second verse is taken up with a twelve-string solo, part Dick Dale and part Roger McGuinn.
Adding to the retro surf/garage vibe of the group is the banging-on-a-trash-can sound that they coax out of the drum kit on the song. It almost sounds like you’re hearing the band playing at the end of your block, with faint hints of melody and rhythm seeping out of the not-quite-closed garage door like so much marijuana smoke. You’re about to go down there and ask them (politely) if they could turn it down just a little bit, but the more you hear the song, you begin to nod your head. It’s all so brief and fun, that by the time you reach their garage, you want to ask them to play it again.
Clocking in at a brisk 2:13, the song is too short to wear out its welcome, and instead invites you to listen to it as much as you possibly can. As a teaser off their forthcoming album Bad News Boys coming out on February 24th for In the Red Records, the song certainly augers well for King Khan and co.’s ability to conjure instant gratification classics.
Ever colorful, King Khan’s comments in the press release announcing the song are more daft than you could possibly imagine: “I have had several dreams involving a young Chuck Berry showing us a frozen t-bone steak and telling us how we could thaw it with our own urine! If that isn’t a sign that he has handed Mark and I the keys to the kingdom than what is?!”
The frontman half of the Montreal duo, King Khan usually sings with his regular band the Shrines, releasing the full-length Idle No More in 2013. Both bands started within a couple years of each other, though the King Khan & BBQ Show briefly broke up in 2010. Either way, King Khan and BBQ (AKA Mark Sultan) haven’t released any material since 2009’s Invisible Girl LP.
To gear up for the album, the King Khan & BBQ Show have been playing live at a huge number of festivals and venues, including Santa Ana’s Burgerama. The band has also teamed up with Black Lips for their 2014 Fall Tour, which has probably helped the King Khan & BBQ Show gain a little extra exposure.
Listen to “Illuminations” by the King Khan & BBQ Show below.