CD Review: No More Kings “III”

No More Kings is a Los Angeles-based rock outfit. The duo consists of Pete Mitchell on vocals and Neil DeGraide on almost everything else with a little help from some friends to help solidify the band’s sound. The duo formed while they were still in high school and they started writing songs around certain themes. When listening to an album from No More Kings, the band will cover concepts like zombies, karate and other ideas that will bring about a certain amount of nostalgia for the listener.

Having already released their self-titled album in 2007 plus And the Flying Boombox in 2009, No More Kings has returned in 2014 with their newest collection of songs. Having already released most of these tracks under the album title of 1973, No More Kings took the majority of the songs, added two unreleased tracks to the tracks from the previous version of the album that made the cut and created the new release called III.

III from No More Kings begins with the track “The Living Dead”. The track features a piano-based feel to the music that brings to mind something that might have been created by either Elton John or Paul Williams. The results end up sounding like a track that belongs back in the seventies on AM radio. With the inclusion of the undead in the subject matter, the track feels both unnerving and slightly comforting at the same time.

The new release from No More Kings changes directions within the music multiple times. The track “Knikkerbakker” is a song that includes a strong groove and a strong fiddle in the music. The track takes both rock ‘n’ roll and country and blends them together to create a track that would be right at home with a band like Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks or even on the NPR program of A Prairie Home Companion. This two-minute song is the perfect track to show off Neil DeGraide’s talent as a multi-talented musician as the piano, fiddle and several other instruments on the song are all played by DeGraide. It’s with drummer Jason Tiemann’s help that the song truly come to life.

One of the strongest tracks on the newest release from No More Kings is the track “Alone in Graceland”. Bringing the style of their music back a few decades, “Alone in Graceland” features music that borrows a lot of style from Doo Wop and especially from the song “Silhouettes” from the Doo Wop group The Rays. Along with the Doo Wop influence to the music, the lyrics to the track were written in such a way that they make mention of almost every time period in the life of Elvis Presley. The main subject covered in the lyrics is the breakup of Presley and his ex-wife Priscilla. While taking so many references and trying to create a coherent story out of them could result in a something very embarrassing, “Alone in Graceland” ends up resulting in a track that is rather humorous.

The track “Tricky” brings the music from No More Kings back into the present. The track features a style that combines the sound of horn-infused Soul music and the lyrical style of Jason Mraz, with an obvious (or maybe not-so-obvious) nod to “Happy” from Pharrell Williams.

For those who have never heard of No More Kings before this release, the band revisits one of their songs from their self-titled release. For their III album (and the 1973 release before), the band takes the song “Zombie Me” and gives the song new life. While the first version of the song from the 2007 self-titled release has a cool, laidback feel to the music, the new version adds a lot of energy to the guitar in the song. The track brings back the band’s theme-based feel to their music and it also adds a nice amount of humor to the release.

One of the most interesting tracks on the III release from No More Kings is the Jim Croce hit “Bad Bad Leroy Brown”. This is possibly one of the most unusual and unique reimagining of any cover song. While the track still contains enough original sound from the Croce recording to still bring to mind what the original version sounded like, the track has been completely rearranged. The new arrangement to the song now includes a horn section and a lot more energy to the music. The track feels as much like a No More Kings track as it does Jim Croce’s song. The song ends up being one of the best moments on the 2014 album from the band.

III, the newest release from No More Kings, finds the band drawing many different musical influences from the past. And while that is the case, the band’s music is as fresh as anything on today’s radio dial.

Click HERE for the band’s Bandcamp profile where you will find the music for this album.