Saturday, August 17 Boy King will celebrate the release of their second album, Master, at The Casbah with The Burning of Rome, Hills Like Elephants, & Gloomsday.
You don’t have to scratch and claw your way beneath the surface of local band Boy King to find out what critics and fans have been raving about. Simply turn on their music or show up for a performance and wait for the face-melting to begin.
The band hit the scene hard in early 2012, turning heads with blistering live shows and rolling to a recent San Diego Music Award nomination for “Best Hard Rock Album” on the strength of their debut, 1. But there will be no sophomore slump as the trio ramps up to release their adequately titled follow-up, Master. Both albums were done in DIY style with guitarist Dustin Lothspeich mixing and mastering all tracks. The first album served as an hors d’oeuvre, perfect to whet your appetite for the main course.
In addition to his behind-the-scenes chops, Dustin Lothspeich is a monster of the San Diego scene. As front man of pop-rock outfit Old Tiger and gritty blues-rock super duo Chess Wars, he has firmly established himself as one of the best in town. With Boy King Lothspeich’s bluesy riffs mixed with elements of hard rock, metal and grunge anchor the band’s sound and his masterful style quickly makes you forget there is no bassist. Adam Eidson is the perfect complement on drums- crafting calculated fills to match the guitar acrobatics stride for stride. Evoking shades of John Bonham and Keith Moon, he defines the music in ways that only the best hard rock bands can ever hope for.
Yet for all the power this rhythm section brings, the spotlight rests firmly on singer Megan Liscomb. Transforming into a rock goddess from the very first note, Liscomb rapidly initiates the audience into her world. Karen O comparisons are obvious, but only the tip of the iceberg. Her vocal range and prowess are amazing, but the most compelling are moments composed of haunting melodies that scream of Jim Morrison and The Doors. Balanced against soaring peaks, Liscomb’s vocals take the listener on a rock and roll roller coaster ride from old school to new.
Master kicks off with “Witch Apple”- a call and response of grungy guitar and crashing hi-hats, which soon erupts into a barrage of all out rock, dipping into a steady groove before exploding again. After the Yeah Yeah Yeahs-tinged “Get Ugly” and the slow burn of “Forever We Run”, break out your Delorean and prepare for the album’s first landmark moment: “My Fire Blues.” This song bursts with blues and Led Zeppelin nostalgia. Much of which comes from Lothspeich’s seamless shift in guitar styles throughout, but it’s Eidson’s immediately catchy drumbeat that seals the deal. “The Fall” – the album’s first single – hits like a ton of bricks. The song is vintage Boy King; a slightly matured display of everything that made fans start eating up this band last year when they released “Second Skin”, their debut single.
Continuing the time warp, the second half of the album shows off the band’s range and serves up some of its most beautiful moments: the haunting “Creature” is truly reminiscent of The Doors – anchored by a melody that invokes a Native American feel. While the song is not their typical fare, stepping outside the box showcases the band at their best. The nearly 5-minute “11 Minutes” starts swimming back into familiar Boy King territory, before a mesmerizing mid-song breakdown. It’s the perfect canvas for Eidson’s solid yet simple drumbeat, Lothspeich’s spacey guitar work and Liscomb’s soulful crooning.
I place a lot of importance on the first and last song of an album. The opener should always grab you by the hair and kick you in the teeth. That doesn’t mean it has to be rocking, it just has to have a strong opening pitch for the listeners’ ears; something that guarantees they’re in it for the long haul. And the last song should always have the feeling of an epic movie ending; as though everything has been building up to that moment.
Not only does this album’s closing track, “Baby” rock your socks off, but it also incorporates elements of almost every other song, fitting as a culmination for the entire album. The big finale evokes shades of a live show coming to a furious rock and roll ending.
Overall Master shows a band that has matured and grown since their first offering. The sound is more full and developed. The vocals are stronger and more nuanced. Everything from the songwriting to the structure shows a band that has found their magic and learned to channel it.
Fear not, avid listener, you won’t have to wait long to hear the new record and see Boy King do what they do best. They will be releasing Master in style (and good company) on August 17th at the infamous Casbah. The lineup features Hills Like Elephants, whose danceable pop-rock has been packing San Diego venues for quite a while now, and local punk rock noise pop duo Gloomsday. Justin Cota and Lori Sokolowski are a potent force to be reckoned with- explosive and addictive. Plus local heroes (and one of San Diego’s best live acts) The Burning of Rome will cap off the night with a style that evades description or classification. With this lineup, I’d say faces will be melting off at record pace.
Get tickets now, as there is no better way to usher in an album like Master and you won’t want to miss this. In one fell swoop, Boy King will stake their claim to the throne of San Diego rock among the best of the best.
Bow down suckers! Long live Boy King!