Monday, February 11, 2008

JESUS LOVES THE KENT 3

With every passing year, I become more of a KENT 3 fan, bordering on fanatic. I listen to their final three albums (“Stories of the New West”, “Peasant Musik” and especially “Spells”) every six months or so, and though I can’t say this about a lot of bands, with the KENT 3, I like to crank it. You know what I mean? Like windows rattling in the car? The mystery of these guys, is outside of a few nods to bands like Wire and The Fall (more imagined than real), they really were just a basic, vanilla, true-blue “rock band” at heart, albeit of the garage-rocking flavor. I saw them live a bunch around 1997-99, as they were at that time, to my ears, Seattle’s best band. I tried to capture the general je ne sais quoi of the band in this post on my old blog Agony Shorthand, which I’ll copy-n-paste here:

“….During my two years of residence in the rainy city (Seattle), the Kent 3 were one of the only local bands outside of DEAD MOON & MUDHONEY I’d regularly venture out to see. I think I caught them on at least a half-dozen occasions, and every last one was a great time. What does one call the style of rock they play? Garage? I guess….but the likelihood of their having any supporters amongst what we commonly think of as Crypt- or even Estrus-style “garage rockers” is pretty nonexistent. How about ROCK? Sure! Make that raw, occasionally straight-ahead rock seasoned with the weirdest, most obtuse sense of humor and lyrical wordplay you can imagine. These gentlemen are by no means dumb – there’s a sneaking suspicion I have, borne out in their lyrics and even in the twisting but riff-heavy music, that the Kent 3 are playing at a stratified plain just above the one most mortals occupy, and that they are so stifled and frustrated that they throw caution to the wind & just say “fuck it” when it comes time to compose a coherent lyrical or musical narrative. In fact part of the fun of listening to them is trying to figure out where Viv Halogen’s lyrical and philosophical thought train will take you in a song. It’s not meant to be “funny” per se (though it often is anyway), just “interesting”. And I hate lyrics!

This latest one (“Spells”) came out in 2002, a good four years after the excellent “Peasant Musik” emerged on Steve Turner (Mudhoney)’s SuperElectro label. I don’t know how I missed it, but then these guys are used to coping with a fairly low profile. Not even sure if they’re around anymore, really. I’d like to know. “Spells” definitely eschews some of the more mid-tempo meanderings of its predecessor for a lot more fired-up aggression, but even that is tempered by titles like “Man In a Woman’s Body” that sort of act as quiet, puzzling interludes for the rest. Halogen has a terrific voice, which is kind of curious when you consider that an incarnation of this band from a decade ago (“Screaming Youth Fantastic” ) practically fell down solely on their then-vocalist’s rotten set of pipes. I have to live with “Spells” some more, but from where I sit today, it’s their most consistent long player to date, Maybe their best. Yet if people truly vote with their wallets, then this is not a very well-appreciated band. You’ll have to factor that against my glowing appraisal and see if it’s worth parting with your dollar when you come across “Spells” in the used CD bins…..”

Since I recently went through a big dose of Kent 3 mania, I figured I’d let you in on the secret and post two songs each from those final three records. Seriously, they're still out there, in used bins everywhere, when they should be safe, warm & at home on your hi-fi. Take a listen and I'm sure you'll see what I mean.

Play or Download THE KENT 3 - “The Palms” (from 2002 “Spells” CD)
Play or Download THE KENT 3 – “The Changeling” (from 2002 “Spells” CD)
Play or Download THE KENT 3 – “Satellite” (from 1997 “Stories of the New West” CD)
Play or Download THE KENT 3 - “11th Street Wipeout” (from 1997 “Stories of the New West” CD)
Play or Download THE KENT 3 - “DJ Knew?” (from 1998 “Peasant Musik” CD)
Play or Download THE KENT 3 – “Well Dressed Man” (from 1998 “Peasant Musik” CD)

3 comments:

sdd said...

Yeah, good band.
Where's Viv Halogen now?

Matthew D said...

One of my favorite bands! Also check out their Basketball Medics 7" (I think it was actually a few 45's in a bi-fold sleeve), it is just as good, if not better, than any of their last three LP's. Criminally overlooked band.

Virgil said...

Long time reader, occasional replier. I too love the Kent 3, bordering on obsessive. Their "Burl Ives" 7" has a glorious track "Electricity Eye." Track it down! - xo - vp