Haunted Head

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds

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Haunted Head Review

by Steve Leggett

Kid Congo Powers (the stage name of Brian Tristan) is hardly a kid these days. He is, after all, the veteran garage guitarist from the Gun Club and the Cramps, did a stint with Nick Cave's Bad Seeds, and Haunted Head is the third album he has done with his current band, the Pink Monkey Birds (bassist Kiki Solis, drummer Ron Miller, and guitarist Jesse Roberts). No, he might not be a kid these days, but he's lost none of his youthful goofiness or any urge to stop playing punk garage rock like it never went out of style, which it never truly does. But in Powers' world, Iggy and the Stooges get merged with the Three Stooges, and this is visionary cartoon rock full of surf overtones, fuzzy guitars, and Captain Beefheart lyrics that seem more made up on the spot than actually written. Powers is hardly a great vocalist, sounding more like a beat poet speaking and slightly chanting his latest musings backed by a ragged, kick-ass band channeling the ghost of Screamin' Jay Hawkins backed by the Stones lost in New Orleans at their drunkest. The whole album is a slab of loose noise that somehow gets over on its own verve and kinetics, with songs emerging from the mix in Powers' baritone singing/speaking voice. "Let's Go!" is a fraying, joyous call for motion and action; the opener, "Lurch," does just that, lurching about like a delightful lost surf tune on too much whiskey; and "Killer Diller" somehow works as a tribute to comedian Phyllis Diller merged with the 1950s ghost of Jerry Lee Lewis. "Dance Me Swamply" is Powers' version of a love song, although even it exists in a strange twilight world of juju cartoons. This is Kid Congo Powers. He may not be a kid anymore, but he isn't too big on changing his style, which is a good thing.

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