Album Review: The Kansas Nebraska Act (Full Length)

Review by Mark Laffin

Hey, ever wonder what it would sound like to have Ian Astbury sing for Husker Du? Hmm...me neither. However, for anyone who has had such a curiosity, Halifax’s own Kansas Nebraska Act is the band to settle that. Now let me be clear, this is in no way a criticism. In fact, the band’s arena ready rock hooks, punk rock urgency with its purposeful lo-fi charm is a welcome recipe for something astoundingly great. In fact, despite singer Thomas Danton’s uncanny vocal resemblance to Ian Asbury of The Cult, paired with the band’s roughly hewn, hook-laden punk rock reminiscent of bands like Husker Du or X, the band as a unit actually sounds like no other. Already having developed a loyal following on the local circuit in the early to mid 00’s, we now have a tasty full length offering that makes for a perfect acclamation of what this band has been known to deliver.

The album’s first track, “Let Me Go” is the perfect opener that pretty much sums up what these guys’ sound is all about. Propelled by a full on, driving punk rhythm with fuzzed out guitars, the verse gives way to a balls-out rock chorus that allows Danton to showcase his arena ready wail. Some might even agree that he sounds like Glenn Danzig here, which with the song’s straight punk feel, gives the song a bit of a Misfits type of appeal. “Dedicated Lines” is my personal favourite, as it opens with an expected sloppy, distorted guitar riff leading into a deeply heavy groove, then the chorus is a carefully executed melody that turns out to be catchy as fuck. “On Strange Ground” is another notable highlight with a simple, yet deeply effective hook that serves as the song’s main riff, and it’s soaring chorus.

“Inside Degrees” opens with a thrash metal type intro, then jumps quickly back into more comfortable territory with its pulsing, fuzzed out rhythm and a chorus that becomes the most intense vocal performance on the album. The rhythm section becomes the focal point on “Club HV71: The New Rules”, while accented with a lead guitar riff that borders on atonal, only to help maintain the marginal chaos of it all. I’ve never had the privilege of seeing these guys live, but listening to “Superuncivilized” sounds like it could be the next best thing caught on tape. You can really anticipate the ensuing intensity with that 3 count on the cymbal that launches the song into 3 and half minutes of punk rock fury.

One of the things I like most about this album, is that there is no one instrument that tries to hog the spotlight here. The drums, bass, guitar and vocals are all prominent enough to stand on their own merits, and make for an ideal sonic mix. Also, the production offered on this record is absolutely brilliant. Any less would have made the recording sound too rough, while any more would have made it sound too polished. To the undiscerning ear, this may sound somewhat amateur, but this is really the sound of 4 very capable musicians who know exactly how they want their band to sound. There is such a strong DIY ethic woven throughout the very fabric of this record that I have the utmost respect for. This band is sincerely original and cohesive, and this album is a grand display of dynamic rhythms, punk vehemence, and razor sharp hooks all buried beneath the violent mix of lo-fi sonics. This is music that shows punk rock getting back to it’s primal roots, while still showing a melodic sensibility and some tongue-in-cheek arena rock affectations.
Highly recommended.

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1 comment:

Zerbax the Magnificent said...

great review of a great album!