Jul 29, 2016 03:51 PM EDT | Mike Greenblatt (email@example.com)
Kat Kings leader Kevin McQuade was on tour supporting 2011's The Winning Hand debut when he got the news that his daughter was near death from a car crash. Leaving the road, he wrote "It Came From the Swamp" while in a hospital waiting room, one of 13 tracks from The Kat Kings' self-released raucous Swingin' In The Swamp follow-up.
The Toronto sextet burns through rockabilly ("B-Flat Cat"), gospel ("Before I Found Him"), balladry ("I'm Just a Shadow"), rhumba ("Late Night Thing"), rock'n'roll ("When I Say Jump"), blues ("I Got the Fuse"), and soul ("I Work for You") all put through a swing blender. Plus, McQuade, who wrote everything, sings 10 of 13 and plays guitar, calls some of his songs "bluesabilly." You have to hear it to understand.
Inspired by the wicked Wilson Pickett, McQuade's characters cannot be soon forgotten, like the dude wearing a sharkskin suit named "Juke Joint Jimmy" who used to hang out all the time at Grossman's Tavern where McQuade has admittedly put away gallons of hooch. Other songs follow the Springsteen aesthetic of fast cars and good-looking women.
The band is stellar. Producer Teddy Leonard adds another hotshot guitar. Bassist John Dymond played with k.d. lang. Drummer Chuck Keeping keeps things moving with the kinetic fury of all four appendages pounding away in a non-stop percussive party. Keyboard flourishes are courtesy of Wayne Dagenais while John Mays of the band Fathead--with whom producer Leonard also plays--sings on three cuts.
It all ends with the admonishment "Baby You Can't Drink," which, I hear, is a lascivious true story too long to recount here. If you're lucky enough to see these boys in a bar, ask McQuade to tell it to you. If you buy him a drink, he just might.
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