I put off reviewing King Cannon’s debut album for a few weeks and I’m glad I did. On first listen, their debut album comes across as an Australian band’s amateurish debut album. However, on further inspection, their talent goes a lot deeper. Having played for a few years together already and cutting their teeth on the local gig circuit, this group knows what they need to do and have wasted no time doing it.
King Cannons sound good: singer Luke Yeoward bears a startling resemblance to Craig Finn (of the Hold Steady) and at times Bruce Springsteen, which can only be a good thing; guitarist Rob Ting is very capable and puts together some fantastic riffs but is also capable of pulling it back as needed; Their rhythm section of Dan McKay on drums and Jonno Smith on bass hold everything together well and are as versatile as the rest of the group which is vital for their sound to work; Rounded out with Mikey Ting on piano/keyboard and Lanae Eruera the group has huge depth to their sound, though these members are probably more obviously important live than on record. Each member’s contribution serves to create a sound that traverses many different rock sounds without ever straying too far from their starting point. This is undoubtedly helped a lot by Yeoward’s voice, so powerful and confident that it pulls every song into line with King Cannon’s sound.
“Stand Right Up” starts the album off with a slow burning singalong rocker in the style of The Hold Steady, but King Cannons don’t waste much time before launching into a rollicking rocker tune “Too Young.” Perhaps the greatest praise that can be levelled at this group is that they don’t sound Australian. That is not to say that Australian music is bad, or sounding Australian is bad, but what King Cannons have succeeded in doing is making an album that is universal. The concepts covered are relatable to people in every country. Encouraging your listeners to “Crawl out from under that thumb” is applicable to most people, as is the idea that “You’ve gotta be rich to win,” as the group extol on “The Brightest Light,” a track which by no small coincidence sounds at times like Bruce Springsteen. “Too Hot To Handle” again shows off the group’s ability to create a diverse range of sounds. Sounding somewhat like a younger Bon Jovi, or for Aussie music lovers, the short-lived, but excellent 67 Special, it is not hard to see the chorus being jumped on by crowds and venues lighting up as Rob Ting launches into one of the many ripping guitar riffs on this track.
The album does stray a little during the middle, tracks like Shot To Kill, Ride Again and Everyman’s Tale letting slip a bit of the energy built up during the album’s opening. This is minor criticism however, as each these tracks is still enjoyable and is balanced out by the energy of “Charlie O”‘s ska-ish backing or “The Cool Change” which sounds like the perfect gap filler for any Little Red fans who are still devastated by their breakup. The Brightest Light finishes on a strong note with “Take The Rock,” an energetic, driving tune that harks back to the sounds of Jerry Lee Lewis and other piano rock pioneers. The verses could almost be an outtake from Cold Chisel’s latest album “No Plans” but their choruses are so catchy they should again serve as a small satisfying moment for those Little Red mourners mentioned earlier.
Ignoring current music trends to follow a path of their own choosing, King Cannons never seem fake, each track baring their emotions brazenly. At times their lyrics and rhymes can sound a bit forced, but this is to be expected from a group that is still relatively young and finding their feet as songwriters. What is undeniable though is the power and energy that this album contains and it is impossible to imagine this not transferring to their live shows. No this is a group to sit up and pay attention to because they have something to say and they have the songs to say it.