CD Review: Crash Kings “Crash Kings”

Brothers Tony (lead vocalist and keyboardist) and Mike Beliveau (bass) are the driving force behind the rising rock band called Crash Kings. The Crash Kings burst into your ears with a hard-hitting sound that is both modern and retro, with guitar tones that will shake you…wait, what’s this? There is no guitar? No way! How can they get this sound without guitar?

Remarkably, this trio (the brothers are joined by drummer Jason Morris) can pull off a big rock record with only keys, bass, and drums. How do they do this? “With tube overdrive and multiple amps Mike’s bass brings heaviness to the band’s sound. On top of that Tony plays a clavinet (a keyboard with guitar strings), which has been customized with a large whammy bar allowing him to bend notes like a guitar producing an entirely new sound”. I understand your skepticism – but just listen to Tony Beliveau’s soaring vocals and the powerful, driving rhythm section and you won’t even realize you are rocking out to a band that doesn’t use guitar!

The Crash Kings previously opened for Chris Cornell, Stone Temple Pilots, The Bravery, and Rooney. They are currently on tour with Jet, which is a logical match-up as many of their tunes have a retro feel like Jet. But the Crash Kings have a diverse sound, coming close to O.A.R. or Safetysuit at times, or approaching the piano rock of Ben Folds or Josh Fix with a smattering of Queen now and then. If you like any of the aforementioned artists, there is a treasure for you to uncover in the self-titled debut by Crash Kings.

What makes this record so enjoyable does not really relate to the band’s unique attributes such as the fact that the founders are brothers who have boldly omitted guitar from their sound spectrum. Nope, what makes this record special are the memorable melodies. These guys know how to write a hook in the chorus and flank it with compelling verses – and their harmonies aren’t too shabby either. The key standouts include the hip opener, “Mountain Man”, the infectious “1985” (not a Bowling For Soup cover), the gorgeous “Raincoat”, and hugely catchy “My Love”. Crash Kings are ready to rule your musical world and, despite being a trio, they sound like a full house.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10

Crash Kings on MySpace. Official site.

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