The winking disconnect between Ketman’s promotional art (swingin’ young people from a half-century ago enjoying the pleasures of their hi-fi system; Twiggy types with black bars across their eyes) and Ketman’s music (lean, pugilistic rock with 1980s American punk in its rear-view mirror) is now a little less disconnect-y. The local band’s second proper full-length, Ketman a Go Go, transcends simple paradoxes by embracing the fringes of so-called “kitsch” culture, from surf and head music to the panache of Swinging London and ’60s-era foreign-film soundtracks.
Ketman’s live shows of late have been bolstered by an unruly horn section, and the mixture of Eastern European, New Orleans, and free-jazz idioms is prominent throughout. The result is an æsthetic that’s not without precedent, though it does defy expectation.
“Saint Jean,” “Celia Cooney,” and “The Fiji Mermaid” fashion a new language out of past vernaculars, all the while leaving the old definition of Ketman in the dust. This is another way of saying that Ketman a Go Go is the first Ketman album you can dance to — flailing excitedly, of course, and pleasantly mystified as to exactly how one should move to something as yet undefined.