reviewed by Erin Red
Land of Kings opens with a guitar riff all but lifted from Dan Mangan’s secret stash and moves into a Cuff the Duke inspired, organ infused, ballad before settling into its stride as a solidly Woodstock-era folk album.
I know that’s a fairly long sentence to describe a fairly short album, but Land of Kings feels a bit like one long sentence. Though each song has its own flavour, they blend seamlessly, one smoothly moving into the next, building and falling as the album sways one way and then another. Solidly in the ‘folk’ category (with a dash of ‘roots’ and old-school ‘rock n’ roll’ – yes you need the “n’ roll”, the “n’ roll” is the applicable part in this case), Montano wears his influences on his sleeve. Or at least the influences I imagine he has.
I’ve recently noticed that I’m partial to having access to background information about a band (a product of both being a denizen of the internet, and a fan of excessively- background-giving CBC radio hosts like Rich Terfry, Tom Allen and Bob Mackowitz) and it bothers me a bit that all I know about the Warm guns is that they are originally from San Francisco, now Oakville, Ontario, and play a lot of different instruments. Also they posted a Joel Plaskett link on their Facebook wall… which makes sense with the imaginary list of influences I have begun to form for them in my head. Add to that a little Bob Dylan, the aforementioned Dan Mangan and Cuff the Duke and you’ll get a pretty good idea of Kristian Montano’s sound.
The stand out track for me is “Just a Fool”, a folksy acoustic that sounds like a long-lost recording from Woodstock. It comes from the voice and the guitar for sure, but its the sound quality that really brings it home. Not exactly scratchy, not exactly lo-fi but exactly perfect for the song. A microcosm of the entire EP, its hard to put your finger on exactly why or how, but everything just seems to fit.
Top Track: “Just a Fool”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)