Crash Kings and their mastery of keyboards

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I have to admit that Crash Kings surprised me. I don’t typically listen to anything softer than double bass drums being thundered deep into my eardrums, but I do have my exceptions. Cage The Elephant, The Raconteurs, and Modest Mouse are my three favorite slightly softer alternative bands, and they are the only ones of that type that I will even listen to, but I had no expectations of branching out to a keyboard-driven mellow rock outfit. Not until Crash Kings.

The thing about Crash Kings is that they have all the soul of a loud and rowdy rock band, but the over-the-top stridency of normal rock distortion is strangely lacking. It’s almost as if these guys got lost on their way to the concert, walked into a piano recital hall and decided to play there instead. The thing is though, their keyboard-rock outfit works. The whole sound is like nothing I’ve ever heard before, and that’s a rare experience in today’s cookie-cutter music industry.

Crash Kings’ eponymous debut is the only album they have out right now, and it was released back in May of 2009. That may seem like not too long ago, but it is enough time for people to completely forget a band that never got too much press in the first place. This album is great, to say the least. Everything about it emanates innovation and originality.

Tony Beliveau, the band’s vocalist and keyboardist, sounds like the reincarnation of Freddie Mercury, if Freddie Mercury had a slightly lower resting tone. The lyrics are made clever and ingenious by being easily relatable and yet not too cliché at the same time. The guitar work isn’t too overwhelming, but neither is it too sedate to be heard. The true defining gem of Crash Kings is the keyboarding; it’s what sets them apart from other alternative bands.

Most songs on the album are introduced by the keyboard, and then the keyboard continues to be the backbone of each song. Much like how the bass guitar can sometimes be used at the front of the musical foreground, the keyboard has the same capacity, as is amply exemplified by Crash Kings. Even though the keyboard lends itself to a slower style of music, the band manages to keep up the tempo and avoid the usual melancholy of blues that comes with the use of the ivory keys.

Crash Kings is a new experience for music listeners from all walks of life. Odds are that you will love this band if you like any kind of rock or alternative music. I am a metal connoisseur, and yet Crash Kings managed to capture my interest. Some standout tracks on their eponymous album are “Mountain Man,” “Come Away,” and “14 Arms,” all of which are unique and intriguing for their own reasons. My advice is to just listen to this album. If it doesn’t catch you on the first run-through, do one more. This album is worth it.

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