[sic] Magazine

King Khan & The BBQ Show – Bad News Boys

The best 60s artists were looking to the future, using the latest equipment to the get the most out of their sounds. Contemporary artists peddling similar sonics are thus looking backwards when they seek out vintage equipment for reasons of “authenticity”, sharing artistic parallels save for where it counts. Canadian garage-psyche/punk-rockers Arish “King” Khan and Mark “BBQ” Sultan have always harnessed the true spirit of the 60s (alongside girl group melodies, surf grooves, crunchy 70s rock and vintage soul), having the decency to make everything they touch their own as well.

Whether solo, in numerous other bands over the past two decades, or as King Khan & The BBQ Show the pair have real depth and breadth in the garage-rock community and something always seems to click when they get together. Their first LP as a duo in six years, as well as their first since a number of high profile on-stage fallings out in 2010, Bad News Boys may not quite have the fireworks of, say, 2009’s Invisible Girl, but Khan and Sultan’s reconciliation is far from, ahem, bad news. Today they straddle Invisible Girl’s cleaner production with the tin-pot recordings of old: twelve scuffed and wildly diverse retrospectives that take in daft, bad-taste rockabilly, snotty, shoestring-budget hardcore, messy hoedown-chug, as well as original-era R&B/doo wop hybrids.

With Bad News Boys, however, it’s not the case that weirder equals better. It’s an album that, instead, makes its best gains on backwards-looking ballads like “Never Felt Like This” and “Kiss My Sister’s Fist”. It’s no coincidence these lightly psyched jangles recall the boys’ career peaks too – they’ve always had a knack when it comes to dusty harmonies and bouncing lyrics that just trip off the tongue. In many ways, even going so far back as the late ‘90s, they set the tone for a select bunch for which scrappy melodies now effortlessly course through nicotine-stained fingers. Black Lips, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees – they all owe a debt to Khan and Sultan and a porch-dwelling, shine-swiggin’, backwoods boogie like “Alone Again” proves it.

We’ll never really know how well Khan and Sultan got on when recording Bad News Boys in Sultan’s current Berlin home, but on record they do continue to sound like the best of friends, Khan’s growling yelp an ever-welcome counterfoil to Sultan’s complementary croon. Though the fruits of their labour ultimately play well enough on Bad News Boys, it’s on the live circuit when their personalities are all guaranteed to truly come alive … and that’s a future state we can all embrace.

Best track: “Kiss My Sister’s Fist”

~Bad News Boys is released 16th March 2015 on In The Red.~