Release Date: Feb 24, 2015
Record label: In the Red Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Garage Punk, Punk Blues
Anybody who's had the pleasure of catching King Khan live will know this guy can rouse a riotous storm of oddball rock n' roll. His live act is as much a visual spectacle as it is musical, with Khan wailing and flailing in the latest addition to his wonderfully cosmopolitan wardrobe. Alas, his studio work has never quite captured that same fervent energy but Bad News Boys, the first BBQ Show record in just over five years, comes pretty damn close.
After a five-year hiatus, the King Khan & BBQ Show have returned with a brand new album that picks up right where 2009's Invisible Girl left off. In 32 minutes, Bad News Boys swings between classic doo-wop ("BuyByeBhai," "Ocean of Love") and garage rock ("When Will I Be Tamed?," "Killing the Wolfman") without ever feeling slapped together or unfocused. The duo's soulful vocal harmonies intertwine with crunchy guitars and understated drums to create a sound that's both fresh and nostalgic at the same time.The album only misses the mark with the duo's two forays into old school hardcore ("D.F.O.," "Zen Machines").
Arish "King" Khan and Mark "BBQ" Sultan have been partners in punk going on 20 years now, enjoying an open marriage that’s allowed them to indulge passion projects outside their relationship, secure in the knowledge they can always go home again (even as that home has changed from their native Montreal to Berlin). Alas, in the six years that have elapsed since their previous outing as the King Khan & BBQ Show, we’ve seen that even the most lax, non-committal unions can turn tense, with the duo cutting ties after a series of onstage blowups in 2010. And perhaps, not coincidentally, post-breakup, each has ventured further afield from their garage-rock base: Sultan with his eclectic double-album set Whatever I Want/Whenever I Want, Khan with Idle No More, his regal 2013 outing with long-time backing band the Shrines.
Montreal/Berlin doo wop garage punk duo the King Khan & BBQ show created a one-of-a-kind combination of raw energy and unexpectedly smart, simplistic melodies over the course of three incredible albums, a run that ended with 2009's Invisible Girl. Composed of garage scene veterans Mark Sultan and Arish Ahmad Khan, their unhinged, unpolished approach to stripped-down punk-blues rompers was uniquely tempered by their knack for hooks modeled after classic soul and early R&B. The band went through a brief break-up and had other projects during the six years that passed between Invisible Girl and its 2015 follow-up Bad News Boys, but very little has changed in their always fun, always messy songwriting formula.
Whether alone or together, King Khan and BBQ dole out sweaty, dedicated subversion of ’60s garage tropes with a mischievous wink and a waggle of the hips. They’re the guys who want you to “Treat Me Like a Dog”, who wish they had “Tastebuds” on their nuts, who have an “Animal Party” with a bunch of zoo guests “doin’ the such-and-such,” all delivered in pitch-perfect, lo-fi shimmy and shake. They’ve also penned some gems that’d pass on golden-era AM radio without needing to change up the lyrical content, though.
By some accident of genetics, Mark “BBQ” Sultan and Arish Ahmad “King” Khan are two garage-rock scuzzballs blessed with incredible soul. Sultan can sing like a genuine doo-wopper, even when he’s parked behind a jerry-rigged drum kit and supplementing his scratchy guitar with primitive kick drum, tambourine, and snare. As leader of the psychedelic big band the Shrines, Khan is a Sun Ra-worshipping showbiz maelstrom—James Brown meets James Williamson of the Stooges.
The King Khan & BBQ Show — Bad News Boys (In the Red)The King Khan & BBQ Show broke up in 2010 after an epicshit-storm of a festival experience which involved Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, a flying rubber snake, tai chi, dancing Chinese girls, airborne guitars and the Blind Boys of Alabama, and ended with Arish A. Khan banned for life from the Sydney Opera House. I’m summarizing, obviously, but you should really read about the whole mess here; even if it’s not entirely true, and I’m reserving judgment, it is a fantastic story.
Gonzo garage maniacs King Khan & BBQ Show offer the aural equivalent to a drunken hook-up: short, weird, messy. Bad News Boys ends a six-year hiatus since 2009's Invisible Girl and finds both Khan and Mark "BBQ" Sultan once again spinning unhinged madness, from the deranged doo-wop of "Alone Again" and "Buy Bye Bhai" to the paranoid speed rock of the Conan O'Brien-inspired "Zen Machines." The duo flips off Montezuma's revenge on hardcore freak-out "D.F.O." ("Diarrhea fuck off!") and crunch, crunch, crunches the positively silly "Snackin' After Midnight." Hooch-fueled hook-up fun that doesn't have to make sense. (7:40pm, Yellow stage) .