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Album review: Red Kate - When The Troubles Come

Album review: Red Kate - When The Troubles Come

I had a conversation with a friend the other night over drinks. The majority of the talk is unimportant, but the meat of it was how much we miss rock ‘n roll. I, like my musician friend, have grown weary of bearded bands trading in their amps and Telecasters for banjos, washboards, and glockenspiel. What boat did I miss here? 
Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger posed the question, “Where have all the flowers gone?”. I say, “To hell with the flowers. Where’s the riffs?”
Well, I have discovered some of the sadly endangered rock ‘n roll species on Red Kate’s When the Troubles Come. The Kansas City-based band (L. Ron Drunkard, Desmond Poirier, Brad Huhmann, and Andrew Whelan. Original guitarist Scot Squatch, who appears on a few of the album’s tracks, left Red Kate while recording Troubles) has laid down a superb LP packed with ‘70s rock aggression. The band’s one-two punch guitar work of Desmond Poirier and Brad Huhmann should make Angus Young and Marc Bolan fans very, very happy.
Red Kate indeed mines the 1970s for gold but stays clear of the cheese that marred the latter part of the decade. Red Kate plays big and aggressive but at the same time is more than capable of producing songs with great pop sensibilities (“Pink Sweater”). Have no fear, my friends; the schmaltz of bands like Boston and Foreigner are nowhere near Red Kate’s sound—thank god. Think more Stranglers and The Saints than STYX and Kansas.
Extolling the virtues of standing up for something and questioning the motives of the government, Troubles is chock full of calls to actions under the cover of rock ‘n roll. On the exceptional lead off track “Union Voice,” Drunkard cries out: “The boss is not your friend / now it’s time to make a choice / stand up and raise your voice.” In “Hypnotized,” he snarls: “I won’t pledge allegiance to the flag or company / there ain’t no way in hell you’re gonna pacify me.”
Too few bands put their beliefs out there for the entire world to see, and even fewer still are capable of doing so while kicking ass. Troubles is what rock and punk used to be before being invaded by Creed worshippers and Hot Topic. Red Kate brings a message without being heavy handed, self-important, or preachy. The band does not tell the listener to overthrow the government or become a radical anarchist. What it does is plant a seed of curiosity, of standing up for what you believe in and for being an individual.
When The Troubles Come is passionate record made by people who clearly believe in the words they’ve laid in wax. It is a record for people who believe that it is their right as humans to stand up for something, to question the beliefs put upon them by church and the state, to demand answers to their questions, and to do so while rockin’ like their heads are on fire.
When The Troubles Come was recorded and engineered at Weights and Measures Soundlab by Duane Trower. It was mixed by Trower and L. Ron Drunkard, digitally mastered by Trower, vinyl mastered at Sae Mastering (Phoenix) by Roger Seibel. Released by Replay Records.
Red Kate’s KC album release party will be at Davey’s Uptown this Friday, August 23. The Bad Ideas kick the show off at 9 pm, followed by Steady StatesThe Quivers, and topped off by Red Kate. Sure to be a loud, rowdy, boisterous evening. Facebook event page.
--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph, MO music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others

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