Lincoln-based KNOCK OUT KAINE have been around for ten years now. Their debut album, 2012’s ‘House Of Sins’ was an absolute barnstormer. A slice of classic British hard rock, with a LA Glam/Sleaze undercurrent.
The intervening three years have seen Knock Out Kaine entangled in a bitter divorce from label DOTT, resulting in little or no financial reward from that album.
So. 2015. ‘Rise Of The Electric Jester’. Is it the ‘difficult second album’, or a brand new start? Well, they’ve had a three year gap between recordings, and they are now signed to UK independents, Rocksector Records, so I’m going to go with the latter.
‘…Electric Jester’ kicks off with right where ‘House…’ left us, with
‘16 Grams Of Heart Attack’, a hard-edged rocker, with a healthy dollop of LA Glam, featuring some blistering fretwork from Hellyeah! guitarist Christian Brady.
‘Fire And Smoke’ is a much bluesier affair, not that it’s laid back, quite the contrary. It’s a high-tempo rocker, with some intriguing layers in the mix, including gospel-inspired backing vocals (think ‘Sweet Home Alabama’).
‘How Would I Know’ throws you off-balance. It starts expectantly enough. A heartbeat, a marching snare drum leading into into arousing intro, before leading into whimsical piano! The song itself is a feel-good stomper, with a chirpy sing-a-long chorus.
‘Diamond Blue’ throws yet another facet into the mix. It has a kind of a 60’s vibe to it, with twangy guitar and Hammond organ low down in the mix, but enough to make their presence felt. The chorus wouldn’t be out of place on a latter-era Beatles album! As soon as this one fades out, ‘Cascading’ comes crashing in with a stomping kick intro. It has a kind of country undercurrent, masking itself underneath the undeniable rockiness.
A dirty Americana guitar introduces ‘Ain’t Your Kind’. A big hook follows, before a distorted half-spoken vocal track. Then there’s the chorus. That chorus! Oh, man, it’s huge! Instantly recognizable, big backing vocals, the works. For me, the best song on the album, so far.
Then, another curve ball! ‘Boxes’ is like nothing else on ‘…Elecric Jester’. I’ll be honest, it jarred a little on first listen, but it’s a ‘grower’. It starts off with the echoey snap like the beginning of the Top Gun anthem, leading into mechanically delivered verses, and then fully letting loose for the chorus. If I tell you the song is about how we’re put into the titular boxes, and the frustration and anger it creates, it all makes sense.
A Hammond organ swells, a two beat drum fill, a guitar slide, and ‘Flying Blind’ is off! This can only be described as a classic driving tune! The chugging verses, hooky pre-chorus, the catchy, rousing chorus, all evoke that ‘summer, top-down, hit the freeway’ feeling. My new favourite on the album!
It took a long time coming, but there had to be a ballad on here somewhere, and here it is, ‘Because You Were There’. It ticks every box of balladry. The strummy acoustic guitar, the huge catchy chorus, the soulful electric solo, the breakdown, the big finale. The only thing missing is the key change! I’m a sucker for a good ballad, and that’s what this is. A bloody good one!
Aptly, the final track is ‘One More For The Road’. It has an unashamedly Aerosmith-y feel to it, with an unmistakable Knock Out Kaine twist. A rousing final shot to close a superb album.
So, overall, what have Knock Out Kaine achieved here? They’ve pulled off the same trick that Queen used to do so well. An album of maturity, with diverse influences, but with ‘Knock Out Kaine’ stamped all over it. A hearty nod to the past, with more than one foot in the present. Check out the video to ’16 Grams Of Heart Attack’, love it, and buy this album!
Knock Out Kaine are:
Dean Foxx : lead vocals
Danny Krash : drums
Jimmy Bohemian : lead guitar
Lee Byrne : bass guitar
Band website www.knockoutkaine.com
Review by Rob Nankivell