In the country of my antipodes, people could be familiar with Blue Cheese for quite some time, for me it is down to weeks. Following the review of 'Hauora' by Street Chant, somehow Blue Cheese popped up somewhere and yes, I started to listen, some more and then some more again.
Kane Strang shares his view on alternative rock with hints at the new wave period in rock music from around 1979 with the world. As such he fits in with several U.S. bands around at this point in time. Cloud Nothings, although a little more aggressive and loud, DIIV, Avi Buffalo, to name but a few. The more poppy side of XTC is mixed in there as is the rock side of Ian Dury. All together a mix comes out of undercooled pop, with distinct features that are not out to please in a direct way, but can't seem to help to do so any way.
The listening experience of the album is similar to the experience of eating the cheese. There are some contradictory sensations: from delight to distinct prickly experiences in the ear. Blue Cheese is not for the light and faint hearted. It certainly is for the connoisseur. For this group there is a lot to enjoy on Blue Cheese.
One of the strengths of the album is that Kane Strang manages to be direct. There is not much beating around the bush. The songs are direct and fairly basic where instruments are concerned. Guitar-bass-drums with an extra guitar here and there. A keyboard is already far out. The slightly punky, whining voice is just as direct, though there are double tracks and some harmonies. The only, minor, downpoint here is the lack of emotions in the singing. In the vocals a, perhaps unintentional, I-don't-care attitude shimmers through the delivery.
From the very first song, 'The Web', this downcast atmosphere can be picked up. The similarities to 1979 and the years soon after are abundant. Where I stopped listening to music of new bands at the time, to depressed for me, I think Kane Strang finds the right mix. The guitars are allowed to be more exuberant, there are accents that clearly lay bare the joy of playing and making music. 'Things Are Never Simple' catches another mood. Was the end of the world as we know it, the sense of impending doom, what made music so glum in 1980, what is it today? Economic malheur, or things on the Internet as Kane Strang sings about?
The somewhat downcast mood is more because of Kane Strang's way of singing, then because of his music. Think Jacco Gardner with better music. The light tone of the main guitar, sprinkles a lightness out over the music. The comparison to Jacco Gardner is not so far of the mark. Kane Strang mixes some 60s (pop) psychedelia into his music that makes sure that there is enough diversity on Blue Cheese to choose from. 'It's Fine' has some distinct trippy elements, where the intro of 'You Think' is all happy, where the singing takes the mood downwards again. 'Never Kissed A Blonde' is the most psychedelic and outgoing song on Blue Cheese. Ty Segall light.
Taking it all in Kane Strang has come up with an album that is worth discovering and fathom. Blue Cheese is an album to take out into the world and be proud of. Besides that, there will be more where this came from. Kane Strang has potential.
You can listen to 'Blue Cheese' here:
of buy on Bol.com