Under Review: Kid Congo Powers & The Pink Monkey Birds – Dracula Boots

From his roots in various garage-inflected bands of the new wave era, Brian “Kid Congo Powers” Tristan returns with his own group for their second full-length. Tristan isn’t one to shy away from goofiness (he was, after all, in The Cramps and The Gun Club), and the songs on Dracula Boots reflect the fun-loving, B-Movie-watching ethos of the garage cabal. Dracula Boots explores some more varied musical territory than its predecessor, 2007’s Philosophy & Underwear, with “Funky Fly” and opener “LSDC” incorporating some truly funky grooves, and “La Llarona” showing off some of Tristan’s chicano music background. While Tristan doesn’t have the over-the-top presence that Jeffrey Lee Pierce or Lux Interior did, he still makes do with his unusually brooding voice. Several of the songs on Dracula Boots evoke the ‘50s slow-dance style that is quite popular with garage bands. “Buck Angel” throws in some distorted vocal yelps and closer “Late Night Scurry” works the rhythm into a kind of warped talking blues. What’s neat about Dracula Boots, and Tristan’s career as a whole, is that it draws from all of his past experiences as a sideman. Often, session musicians release albums that far outshine the bigger artists they collaborate with. While Tristan’s name might not be as well known as some of his former cohorts’ (I saw him open for Nick Cave last year and didn’t know who he was, even after two Gun Club covers), his place in the garage world is likely to be that of best-kept secret. Then again, the world of garage rock and rockabilly thrive on little-known delights from outsider artists. The Cramps acted as history teachers, covering obscure gems and bringing forgotten music to their audiences. Tristan might be setting himself up for the same thing: being covered by other acts while slowly carving out his own place. Though Dracula Boots is a strong enough effort, Tristan, like so many other purveyors of unpopular music, is eclipsed by relative superstars and left to play to a small but fanatical fan base. I can’t imagine that Tristan (or Jeffrey or Lux) would want it any other way.


~ by E. on July 28, 2009.

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