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Kung-Fu Jesus

Celestial Gold (Gargleblast)

By • Feb 26th, 2015 • Category: long players

Debut effort from our distinctly wandering troubadour here; these twelve songs arrive in our laps via some psychedelic experiences in South America, a relationship implosion, wobbling about on crutches in Taiwan for a year and musing about some lizard people. Not just any lizard people, ‘Baby Eating Lizard People’ (track eleven).

Given that the starting point was the undefined exotica of a Lanarkshire village it’s surprising how relatively conventional the end product is considering the ensuing lunacy. Maybe you can have all the hallucinatory Ayahuascan froth-abouts in darkest Peru you like but you’ll never truly take the boy out of Scotland.

Things kick of with ‘Friends to the End’; simultaneously a song of dreamy hope and bluntness. Notable also for the fact Mr Jesus sounds rather uncannily like Paul Banks from Interpol. It’s confident with some mournful, brooding keyboards underpinning the firm but fair vocals. A hope of eternal friendship, but no promises.

Bugger any accusations of aping another singer’s style though: next up ‘The Death of Penny Lane’ includes the lines, “Let’s get fucked up on Penny Lane, prostitutes and crack cocaine”. Frankly that could be tossed out in the style of Russ Abbot and it’s still a belter. Liverpool city council should try that one in their next brochure; no right thinking delinquent could resist a city break like that.

In a way ‘Penny Lane’ encapsulates the entire collection. It’s tuneful, it’s attractively hooky but if you actually pay attention to the lyrics there’s some pleasingly dark stuff lurking. Summat to be said for going out of your mind lying in a bed on the other side of the world perhaps. Banged Up Abroad, the album.

I haven’t got a better line than that by the way, so you might wanna stop reading now.

Don’t stop listening to the album though, because, as it unfolds, more and more quirkiness reveals itself. Occupy in particular introduces extra electronica and rattling percussion. My only regret is not being sat in a traffic jam, window down, elbow on the door and hand whacking the roof. It’s positively groovy. Even allowing for its use of the word ‘sheeple’ [ban that tosh immediately] it’s a highlight for me, a definite highlight.

Though the rest is perhaps more straight forward dude with guitar it does crackle with experimentation like the backmasking on Vegetable Man and assorted fizzes and clangs here and there. Not quite to the outré extent a song influenced by perpetual reptile-worrier David Icke might suggest but hey hoo. The aforementioned ‘Lizard People’ has a nice sing along chorus. I’d suggest a video featuring assorted outcasts from Village of the Damned and perhaps a tyrannosaurus in a tiara. Fun for all the [royal] family.

All in it’s a very good debut with plenty of pleasure and promise; a voice and gift with words in particular that bear close, close examination. In horrid record industry speak it’s a grower. What that usually means it’s actually deeply mediocre but you’ll eventually roll over in meek submission after being beaten over the head with it for six months. Here though, it is truly as it says: first listen – “Aye quite good”; second listen – “Ooh, I missed that bit”; third listen – “Woah, I like that”.

Maybe the name, in fact, sums it all up rather neatly. Kung-Fu Jesus; a peripatetic fellow with a good heart… who’ll throw in a few ninja moves, be they lyrical or jungle-based lunacy, to keep you on your toes.

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