If I’m being completely honest, I would start by saying that I didn’t expect much from kin when I purchased the album and was asked to write a review. Perhaps I have become jaded by the state of the Canadian rock music scene of late, and all the Nickelback clones housed therein– turning country-blues-rock into digestive gruel terrestrial radio serves-up to it’s hordes of lobotomized listeners to consume, regurgitate, and then consume again next year, when the greatest hits album comes out. Or maybe it’s the sickly feeling I get when the words “Canadian”, “indie”, and “rock” appear together in the same sentence, which usually signals to me that I’m about to experience the rock-music equivalent of a Jackson-Pollock painted by a crack-baby in the dark. In which case, I was prepared to do what any good parent would: pin it up on the refrigerator, pat the little-guy on the head and never look at it again.
Upon looking at the product though, I can’t help but notice how shockingly — legitimate– it looks and feels. There isn’t anything “indie” about the packaging — two inserts, front and back, fully detailed with crisp graphics and information, as tastefully designed as something you’d see sold at a record chain. Point for the Rogues. But how does it sound?
I plugged in my Studio Beats by Dr. Dre at first listen, and was pleased to hear how beautifully mixed the entire album was. Guitars were full-sounding but not overpowering, the bass provided enough ‘umph’ and vocals were crystal-clear. Not exactly a hallmark of traditional indie fare. It’s polished– almost too polished. I looked at the jacket again, more specifically the word FACTOR printed at the bottom. Later I found out that the band received a FACTOR Grant, which was provided by the Canadian government to help with the costs associated with the recording and distributing of kin. This is how the band manages to keep it’s indie cred, without enduring any of the pitfalls of being broke.
It was a good investment.
After listening to kin, the greatest compliment I can give the Rogues is that this album made me want to dip back in to my collection and rediscover my old favourites. There were so many moments in kin that had me reminiscent about bands I used to love (back when I was bangin’) in the mid-nineties. ‘Bottle Full of Problems’ takes me back to my room at 15 years old, listening to Soundgarden for the first time. Rules of the Road harkens back to the long summer drives with my father, with Big Wreck’s In Loving Memory of… blaring. The band’s guitarist, Jay Kana, assures me that the guitar riff in the chorus in ‘Up to No Good’ wasn’t ripped from a Zeppelin song. I still don’t believe him, despite a fruitless iTunes search. But even if Jay were a thieving liar, it makes the song, and possibly the album. I implore you to buy a copy of kin for a very reasonable ten dollars, if only to help me call Jay on his bullshit. Then turn it on, crank it to eleven and let its awesomeness envelop you.
Memorable hooks and riffs drive the entire album like a muscle car with the accelerator nailed to the floor. It is exactly what blues-rock should be: rich, soulful vocals and heavy guitars– totally accessible and completely unpretentious. kin has now even found it’s way onto my iPod.
The Noble Rogues’ kin doesn’t reinvent the genre– it makes you remember why you loved it so much in the first place.