By Julie Finley
Sept. 29, 2009
Kid Congo Powers (a.k.a. Brian Tristan) has been around. . . and around! If you know the name, you know his pedigree! If you are reading this, you probably dig at least one of the following: The Cramps, The Gun Club, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Congo Norvell, Knoxville Girls, Kid & Khan, Fur Bible, Botanica, Mark Eitzel, The Divine Horsemen, The Angels of Light, Die Haut, etc. (or possibly all of them). He’s sort of a renegade musician—he shows up in a lot of things—but in the past few years, he’s finally doing his own thing, where he’s the focus.
In 2006, under the moniker Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, he released Philosophy & Underwear, as well as releasing Solo Cholo (which was a sort of odds & ends compilation of various works Kid had done, but were sporadic).
Dracula Boots is the follow-up to Philosophy & Underwear, and it doesn’t miss a beat. It’s equally as good! I’d actually say it’s a bit more playful and silly in a lot of ways, but it also has a sinister undertone throughout. The album evokes a rather retro production value (you can hear the squeak of the bass drum pedal pretty much throughout the entire album), and the guitar is very heavy on the reverb and tremolo. According to Kid’s MySpace page, the album was recorded in a high school gymnasium, in a Midwest town called Harveyville. That may account for the heavy echo that is omnipresent.
There are a few old covers on this one, like Thee Midniters’ “I Found A Peanut” (which seems rather coincidental considering there was that US peanut salmonella scare earlier this year) and Bo Diddley’s “Funky Fly.” There are a lot of groovy instrumental tracks on here like “Hitchhiking” and “Pumpkin Pie” (both are pretty much the same, with the exception of a few short phrases thrown in). “Robo Boogie” and “Kris Kringle Ju Ju” are also pretty much the same song with different phrases, and they both sound like Serge Gainsbourg’s “Requiem Por Un Con. . . ” (Which isn’t a bad thing.)
Additionally, there are a few tracks with ghostly and sparse spoken lyrics, which sort of give you the feeling that you’re lost in a Mexican sandstorm: like the songs “La Larona” (which was my favorite on the album), “Rare as the Yeti,” and “Late Night Scurry.” There’s a lot of heavy brooding organs, guitar oscillators, spooky laughs & shrieks, and of course, the theremin. If there were a Mexican version of The Munsters on Telemundo or Univision, this would be the soundtrack.
Overall, it rocks!
Another thing to mention about Kid Congo: he’s just a really cool guy overall. He’s very friendly and approachable, so if you catch him on his latest tour in support of his new album Dracula Boots, make it a point to say hello!
Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds will be playing the West Coast of the US throughout October. Check his MySpace page for tour dates and to hear selections from Dracula Boots.