Vibe Killer by Endless Boogie

Release date: May 19, 2017
Label: No Quarter

I never knew I wanted to see Kiss at a kite festival until I heard this album.

For on this fifth offering from Endless Boogie – surely the band with the most apt name since the John Spencer Blues Explosion – vocalist Paul Major tells a tale on ‘Back in ’74’ of doing exactly this. His friends had no eyebrows “because of Bowie” and Kiss “did not bring their own kites. They were kiteless. And fancy free.” The hard-boiled story involves violence, injury and acid. And it is backed by the languid Neu-doing-Blues riffing that the band is renowned for. And by the end of it, despite the incidences detailed within, you find yourself wishing you’d been there.

Fans of the band have been waiting four years for a new album by this quartet. And they won’t be disappointed. Hell, even the band’s detractors (the “aww, the songs are too long” brigade – what did they expect?) might find something worthwhile here. Because yes, the lengthy blues jams are still present, but things are a little more restrained here than on, say, Long Island. The vibe is louche. Which takes effort.

This is no more evident than on the title-track opener. Major growls as if he is channeling the spirits of Captain Beefheart and John Lee Hooker, while the muted riff weaves along for, well, ages. And it is great.

The next track, ‘Let it be Unknown’ flies by in a matter of two minutes, before the first of Major’s storytelling songs kicks in, with ‘High Drag, Hard Doin”. The backing music is solid, the story is dark. And again, it involves violence – and sleaze. Lots of sleaze.

Another highlight is ‘Bishops at Large’ which has a satisfying drone in the background and the song title chanted metronomically, if a little forebodingly, to create an atmosphere of slight paranoia. The piano marking out the rhythm brings to mind bits of Primal Scream’s Screamadelica.

The Kiss song follows to bring us back to the roadhouse (musically, at least) and even with repeated listens, it does not lose impact. What sounds at first like a stream of consciousness recounting of a long-ago concert soon reveals itself to be a sharply observed, well written drama. And there is a killer solo at the end.

Things get a little Doors-y on ‘Jefferson County’, but the vintage fuzz-laden lead guitar still provides 11 minutes of jammy goodness. As it does on the final track (the final one on the copy I got anyway – I have since noticed there are two more on the album on the band’s Bandcamp site), ‘Whilom’. Two guitars play off each other, each looping a laid-back riff while Major grumbles away.

It is enough to make your eyes half-close, while remaining conscious enough to know that that evil lurks in the background. Which I reckon was the intention of the entire album. Well, that and to invoke feelings of envy that we missed seeing Kiss at a kite festival in 1974.

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