SONIC FRENZY Volcano Kings working on their alchemy.
Pawtucket-based instrumental syndicate Volcano Kings celebrates its full-length debut release, 11 Ways to Avoid Death in Trash Can City, with a hometown throwdown next weekend at the News Cafe. Simply put, Trash Can City is an aural acid trip, combining heavy doses of sonicness, ranging from crime jazz to Krautrock, surf rock to spaghetti westerns.
Founding members Jim Billingsworth and guitarist Matthew Whitcomb began rough-drafting ideas in 2007 and filled out the band two years later with drummer Alec Tisdale, organist Mangould Barrington, and bassist Cory Couture (who left the band last year and was replaced by Tom Maloney, though Couture will return for the upcoming gig). VK released a 22-minute single-track EP titled Mechanical Beast in 2010 (now available as a free download), recorded at their studio dubbed the Pawtucket League of Gentlemen.
Local musician Roz Raskin tipped me off to the Kings last year, and she recently checked in while out on tour with her Rice Cakes.
"Volcano Kings have this amazing way of making you feel like you're in a movie, like something out of a detective flick, mixed with a 1960s Frankie and Annette beach romance and topped off with tons of radical noise," she said via email.
"They are one of our favorite acts coming out of RI right now."
Should a David Lynch (or similar cinematic mindfuck specialist) come calling for a dystopian whodunit, 11 Ways to Avoid Death in Trash Can City would be the go-to soundtrack.
"The 11 songs segue seamlessly, accompanied by ambient sounds of dark city jazz and industrial machinery between tracks," Whitcomb offered when he sent advance tracks my way a few weeks ago. "We never had a particular concept in mind when we started recording this album," he said when asked just how the hell they came up with this soundtrack design, "the whole ' '11 Ways' idea was more an afterthought."
The album opens with the breakneck percussion of "C.A.C for Hire" and settles in nicely while sliding into "The Power Station." The strutting bassline on "Detective" leads to a funked-up and scorching cover of Henry Mancini's "Peter Gunn Theme." "Trash Can City Police," "Bad Luck City Collision," and Repair" are personal favorites here, and be sure to look up Volcano's official video for "Viaduct"; the band added some memorable subtitles to the silent, black-and-white crime serial such as "This music sounds like what it must feel like to . . . you know, to be pregnant and homeless." Holy shit.
As for the album title, I mistakenly assumed the "Trash Can" inference was a backhanded homage to their homebase of Pawtucket (aka "The Bucket"), but Billingsworth set me straight.
" 'Trash Can City' represents any American city that poses a 50-50 chance of surviving while walking through it at night alone with a raw, bloody beefsteak strapped to your chest," he said.
Pick up a copy of 11 Ways to Avoid Death in Trash Can City for just $5 starting next weekend.
VOLCANO KINGS + THE FAMOUS WINTERS + NOVUS 2 + THE UNIVERSES | Saturday, April 28 @ 8 pm | News Café, 43 Broad St, Pawtucket | All ages, $5 | 401.728.6475 | reverbnation.com/volcano kings | volcanokings.bandcamp.com