Thursday, July 5, 2007

Eleven Complaints - Kastadyne

Probably the best thing to do when reviewing music is to do it after one long continuous hearing. That way you don’t let any particular song influence your judgment. Just when you think you are being affected (like/dislike, love/hate don’t work for me) by one you quickly move on to the other. (Much like the handsome/mysterious strangers Punjabi girls meet at their friend’s wedding in quick succession. Infrequently).

Getting back to the point, this way you remember every track for exactly what it was worth. Your personal equation with the song becomes unimportant. You feel the sound, get used to it and you react to the album as one whole. With the breaks in the middle working efficiently as pacifiers.

When I was requested to do a review for Kastadyne’s debut album, Eleven Complaints, I treated it the same way. And I wasn’t disappointed.

Kastadyne is a young band. And I do not mean merely ‘new’. Both the band members are well under twenty and have been fiddling with music since school. I have been a passive critic of their numerous attempts to cut and record songs for a good part of two years. And it’s only natural that I write a review of their debut offering.

Eleven Complaints is nothing short of audacious. From the album art to the tracks there’s nothing about this CD that makes you want to ignore it. It is aggressive. It is different. And it knocks the socks out of you. Not with its loudness (and it is deliciously loud) but by the sheer punch factor. When you were least expecting it.

Tejas’ soft strumming is a great alter-ego for Sheldon’s powerful vocals. In fact the character of the album is set by these two working in tandem over eleven tracks. Their personal chemistry is evident as the transitions from the classic guitar riffs (made popular by the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Who) move effortlessly into a modern Seattle grunge. And it’s all there. The dirty distortions. The fuzz. The raspy vocals.

The album starts off with what will easily become their most popular track. “Victim of my Anger” is a furiously paced, edgy number that deals with urban angst. It’s the most grungy track of the album by far. There’s great guitar, great vocals and the overall track lingers in your mind long after the second one’s started playing.

The next track that you really can’t miss is their tribute to Kurt Cobain. ‘Never Mind’ is about loss and how. Subtle acoustic guitars show a soft, sensitive side of the two that is tempting enough for you to plead them to continue. In fact, personally this track in all its niceness feels a little overdone. ‘All the power’ on the other hand is pure punk rock. The hip-hop influence is also evident. But the real hero in the track remains the lyrics. “the hand, the tiger and lotus deny you”.

The vocal quality of Sheldon can be best appreciated with “Laugh”. It is a downright eerie track that shows the band is not afraid to experiment. “You sell guns and bombs on a sunny day”. Heavy. ‘I Don’t Know Why’ is a personal favourite. It is one of those rare gems that grows on you. A distinct heavy metal influence overrides the song that beautifully builds into a steady drumming frenzy. And there lies a curious eighties quality to the feel. Uriah Heep anyone?

‘Greedy needs’ is an ok track that begins with a lot of promise but is rather overdone by the end of it all. In fact that remains a problem with the Kastadyne sound. Sometimes the tracks, I felt should be left open. A little starker and this could have been easily one of the ’25 most played’ tracks on everyone’s iPod. ‘Rat Race’ also falls into this category. It leaves you grasping for space with the distortions and transitions that just feel unnecessary.

‘Blur in the mirror’ again sways you by the vocals. The classic rock feel and steady guitars give it mass appeal and one feels that this can turn out to be one of their best live numbers if softened up a bit. The lyrics particularly stand out.

‘Chickenator’ and ‘Don’t Waste the Bullet’ are both super attempts. Both the tracks are old favourites, but this time I really dig the mixing. And the instrumentation is solid gold. The former shows a teeny bopper streak that the kids have and is probably just the kind of sound that young America laps up. It is also the most innocent number of the album. The strains of angst and despondency have given way to a cheery excitement that makes it peppy and very, very youth. ‘Don’t Waste the Bullet’ stands out for its exceptional lyrics and mature guitar play. ‘You put me in pain, lots and lots of pain’. Yeah, you do guys.

Eleven Complaints is a noteworthy debut. No covers. But eleven original tracks that showcase a unique ability to stand out. It is no surprise that ‘Victim of My Anger’ has hit #1 in a very popular alternative music website. While writing about them one struggles with comparisons. It is grunge, it is punk, it is indie rock, it is metal, it is classic rock. I don’t know. What I do know is they have a rather unique ability to shift in and out of genres. Breaking every rule in the book to emerge with a sound that’s previously unheard. But there are problems as well. Inconsistent transitions and the lack of a good drummer leave the band wanting in its need for spontaneity. The sound is great but is largely overdone in parts that affects the overall feel. Some pure acoustic numbers would go a long way to quell these doubts. Also, these guys are way too angry and a soft ballad just might help curb listener boredom. But that I will leave these two talented youngsters to mull over for their next album as I get back to my regular job of selling sub-standard soap and underwear.

This is an awesome debut. By any standards.

to know more about kastadyne click here


Ani said...

I msut say that this review is well composed.
I got the first copy of the album ever released, and am proud to bear that tag.
This review is precise to the point, it almost spells out whatever I think whenever I listen to Eleven Complaints everyday.
Hats Off to kastadyne and to Phish.

Rengine said...

Nice review. Is this a Bombay band? Sounds interesting, although never heard of them before. Where did you hear of them? Is the album available in Bombay? After reading your comments, feel like picking it up.

phish said...

thank you ani.
rengine, this is a new band that's just out with the album. it's supposed to hit the shelves soon, however I am sure a copy can be ordered via email as well. do visit the link at the bottom of the post to learn more about kastadyne. you can contact the band directly through their website. of course, you can leave your own comments there as well.

'Grey' said...

Awesome ! kastadyne rocks ! Kastadyne will remembered just as Rock Machine , 13AD, Colorblind! They have already left thier footprints on Indian Rock scene , i hope as in Colorblind its not just a one album band !

phish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
phish said...

certainly don't think so. and i shall disown them if they do :)

on a serious note, i think both the dudes have a great thing going and will certainly be back with a killer of a follow up.

some inside news: going by the songbook that 'da producer' says exists, this is only the beginning.

just wait and watch.

Da Producer said...

Yes, sir. I have seen the future, er... the songbook, and it works! Certainly there's lots more to come, seeing that it keeps getting more and more filled up with every passing week.

Arjav Oza said...

Yes! Yes! Yes! Kastadyne, U guys rock and u showed especially at the Rock Nite at N.M. College's Umang. I loved u guys. I am one of the head of departments at Umang. I have also heard the album. It is fantabulous but the live performance was even more fantabulous. Go Guys! Make yourselves proud. My wishes are always there with you! (I found your music and especially the vocals a lot close to Godsmack!)

Richard said...

Yeah pretty accurate review cept for the song "I don't know why" being punk. Don't quite share the same view with ya mate...i get that it has the energy of a punk song but i dunno it doesn't sound punk in its execution. But yeah all in all accurate review