Album Review – No Kings (Low Lifes & High Rollers)
Gale Force Album Rating:
- 1) Elephant Dub
- 2) WKS
- 3)Lowlifes & High Rollers
- 4) Generous
- 5) Ghosts and Names
- 6) Locals Only
- 7) Counting
- 8) Up to No Good
- 9) Wake Up Slow
- 10) Inhale
- 11) One With It All
- 12) Evil Dub
- Matt Cook- Vocals
- Garrison Cyr – Bass
- Joel Brust- Guitar
- Rafa Scatolin- Drums
“In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion.” – Thomas Paine, Common Sense. (1776)
No Kings is an amalgamation of friends brought together by a shared drive for creative expression, the love of performance, and the value of music for music’s sake.
Joel Brust and Garrison Cyr first made music together as two of the four original members of Subliminal Trip, a reggae-influenced rock group formed in early 2009. They helped co-write and release one album, which won minor awards in Los Angeles for its title track “Be Set Free”. They regularly played shows in San Diego and L.A. at venues large and small.
After leaving Subliminal Trip in late 2011 due to artistic differences, Joel and Garrison continued writing music on their own. They soon enlisted the talents of friends Rafa Scatolin and Matt Cook, and have been writing and recording music together ever since.
The sound of No Kings is a cultural fusion derived mainly from the rhythms of first- and second-wave ska and roots reggae, the exploratory guitar sounds of psychedelic and surf rock, along with traces of punk and drum and bass intensity.
Progressive ska-surf act No Kings is making quite a name for themselves in the San Diego music scene. Building on the momentum of a growing fan base, lots of local live performances, and two previous releases (a 2011 LP and 2014 EP), the foursome is ready to move things to the next level with their latest effort, Low Lifes & High Rollers. Production duties this time around were handled by the drummer’s brother, who has found success as both a musician and a producer in Brazil, which helps instill even more of a worldwide sound into the album.
It all kicks off with “Elephant Dub,” a smooth, laid-back, instrumental groove (peppered with a few recorded vocal samples) that is worth listening through all five minutes of, and might be best experienced with the lights down low and the speakers up high. “WKS (Worst Kept Secret)” hits next, a slower ska/reggae tune that allows vocalist Matt Cook to lament over funky grooves. Next up is the title track, bringing more heartfelt reggae hooks and an infectious chorus. The local rockers then weave their way through twelve more tracks of progressive ska, surf, and reggae. While this album chooses to exude laid-back vibes over high-energy ones (with the exception of “One With It All,” the most aggressive song on here), the band is careful and intentional to never slow the groove down too much that the listener is left lost, bored, or asleep.
This new album gives No Kings various opportunities to showcase its deft grooving skills, adding the track “Locals Only” halfway through, an upbeat instrumental with a surprise ode to surfers in the middle, and wrapping up the album like it began, with the cool vibes of the horn-heavy instrumental “Evil Dub.”
Overall on this release, the band manages to channel its influences really well (from Slightly Stoopid to Sublime to Mighty Mighty Bosstones to Grateful Dead), to ride smooth and steady grooves throughout, and to infuse horns that give it more of a worldly flavor, at just the right times. Cook’s soulful vocals are authentic and impassioned, without ever being too in-your-face. It should all work together to propel No Kings further into the royalty of the San Diego music scene—and maybe even beyond.
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]
Get yourself down to Winston’s OB in beautiful Ocean Beach, San Diego, CA Saturday Oct 3rd for the Hotly anticipated CD release party presented by none other than: Gale Force Productions & Sponsored by Always Greenest Collective. Click on the link below for pre-sale links to the show and a gift package that includes a copy of the CD and a gift bag from Always Greenest. See you at the show. ~Gale
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Taking the risk of drinking and driving has it’s costs and it’s way more affordable to use the Gale Force Sober Ride Directory.
Find discount rides with Lyft using our USEGALEFORCE promo code, find discounted town cars, limo’s, suv and hosted party buses with dinner and drinks included (show tickets sold separately) to some of the hottest live music shows.
All of us at Gale Force Productions remind you to party responsible and arrange for a sober ride. www.usegaleforce.com