The constant chatter of rock and roll’s death is just that – chatter. Empty-headed talk. Proof otherwise abounds. New York City’s King Falcon certainly delivers proof of its ongoing relevance as songwriter/guitarist/singer Michael Rubin, bassist James Terranova, and drummer Tom Diognardi breathe new life into and slap a new coat of paint onto the style’s familiar tropes.
They revamp them, however, for their uses. King Falcon’s eleven songs included on their self-titled debut, produced by Marshall Altman famed for his work with Marc Broussard, among others, explore surprising degrees of diversity given King Falcon’s avowed affinity for rock music. They aren’t content with a single line of attack.
“Everybody’s Down”, however, leads with one of their many strengths. Unbridled, straight-ahead rock and roll is a mode that King Falcon manipulates with expert skill. The opener’s seeming simplicity is, however, a bit misleading. A careful listen to guitar-fueled rave-ups such as this reveals a song carefully driven by dynamics rather than mindless thrashing that overwhelms listeners with sheer sonic muscle.
Attitude for days burns off tracks such as “Ready Set Go”. King Falcon conjures the rambunctious and rugged spirit of rock music better with this track than many of their peers and contemporaries can hope to match. I’m a big fan of how King Falcon disdains your standardized guitar heroics in favor of a song-first ethos that makes each of the debut’s cuts as durable as stone.
They show us different looks over the course of the album. “Set Me Free” jettisons the breezy up-tempo pace dominating the album’s early songs in favor of a slower, grinding approach that applies a rougher veneer over King Falcon’s songcraft. Bassist James Terranova shines brighter here than elsewhere, though his performance is essential on each song. Another slower tempo comes with the song “Soul Sucker” and it translates, in this case, to a tighter focus on dynamics that emphasizes other sides of the band’s musical character.
Piercing lead guitar during the second half of “My Name Is” places an emphatic punctuation point on an already fiery track. The relentless back and forth of the song’s inflamed arrangement has an almost claustrophobic quality, but never veers into abrasiveness. Rubin’s guitar playing, however, reaches new incendiary temperatures with his performance here. The penultimate number “On Your Soul” has a breakneck pace that doesn’t close out nuance. Terranova and Diognardi’s performances are an obvious enduring test for the musicians as the track’s speed makes definite demands of both players, but the song never feels rushed.
“Go On” has an exploratory tilt that many of the earlier songs don’t share. King Falcon ventures further out on the ledge than before with the album’s closing track, but it shares enough characteristics with the first ten songs that it doesn’t sound out of place. They keep their mojo going for the entirety of this debut and end it sounding like they could have included another three to four tracks without ever overburdening listeners. This is one hell of a debut and holds up under numerous listens.
Donate to IndiePulse Music Magazine’s Academic and Music Education Scholarship Program HeartBeat4Kids
IndiePulse Music Magazine creates Scholarships to help Youth In Need of assistance to complete their educational goals and stay in school.