THE LOUNGE KITTENS DON'T CARE IF BODIES HIT THE FLOOR AS THEY KNOCK 'EM DEAD WITH 'SEQUINS & C-BOMBS'
Release Date: 16th September 2016 (Pledge Music)
Southampton trio The Lounge Kittens have no fear. In fact they have such a love of music that they are not afraid to cover any song from any genre, something that they have turned into an art form all of its own in the four short years they've been together.
Highlights of those years have included playing Glastonbury (twice), Sonisphere and Download, touring with Steel Panther and having their cover of Limp Bizkit's 'Rollin'' endorsed by Fred Durst himself. Add in a succession of successful YouTube videos and all that plus a bucketload of hard work has led to this, the release of their first full length album. Funded via a Pledgemusic campaign, they got 200% of the amount requested. The album is still available to preorder here.
On the surface what The Lounge Kittens do is take a song and whatever the style, break it down until it can be performed just by three voices and a piano. Live they are as colourful as they are gorgeous and a huge amount of irresistible fun. If you don't end up grinning away at a TLK show there's something wrong with you. It turns out that on album they can do that too. The amount of imaginative fun they have with three voices and a keyboard on House Of Pain's 'Jump Around' is quite amazing. System Of A Down's 'Bounce' gets a similar irreverent yet affectionate treatment.
Here it's the same as the live shows; they make it look easy. But this is a real band. As Jenny Deacon (piano player and 'the red one' for those going by their patented Kitten colour coding) said when I asked her about how they get those superb harmonies:
"Musically it still literally baffles me how we sound the way we do. I wouldn't call it an accident that our voices fit so well together, we have worked so hard to get to where we are! All of our individual voices are so different to each other, when you put them together they shouldn't work. I mean, it's not to say that we couldn't do it and it wouldn't sound alright; as long as a group are singing the correct notes and are in tune with each other, it's always going to sound alright. But to sound as blended and united as ours do is incredible.
"I don't mean to sound like I'm blowing our own trumpet section, but it proves that all the hard work we put into diction, rhythm, intonation as well as pitch and tuning makes all the difference. When we first started we spent hours going through every line making sure we were all singing the words, the vowels, the rhythm etc identically. Now we do it without thinking, it's ingrained into our learning process. I'm so proud of the 'product' we have created."
These young women have real musical chops and for me it's often when they approach a song simply looking to express it in their own way that's most impressive. Toto's 'Africa' is left pretty well intact and simply performed with a vocal arrangement that's breathtakingly good. Alice Cooper's 'Poison' is given a kind of 40s arrangement but the core of the song shines through showing that it's done with respect and affection.
Even when they are seemingly poking fun at Metal's finest, like the jaunty treatment of Metallica's 'Sad But True' or the ambitious but ultimately amazing Rammstein medley 'Rammers', we Metallers know they are one of us and enjoy the vibe as much as they do. Plus let's face it, Metal could do with a bit more fun sometimes.
Any doubters of their Metal credentials just need to listen to their version of Drowning Pool's 'Bodies' which is unexpected, reverential and wonderful all at the same time. Probably my favourite track on the album.
When asked about how they choose which style to do a song in Jenny said:
"First and foremost we pick the songs we love, and then we listen over and over and over again, and play around on the keyboard until an idea comes to us about how we can 'kittenize' it. There are some songs that simply don't transfer and we have to respect that. There's no point in trying to touch something that shouldn't be touched.
"Once the song has been chosen, sometimes the style jumps out straight away but sometimes you have to make a committed decision to whether it's upbeat or downbeat. With songs like 'Africa' we didn't want to stray too far from the original because the original is just so monumental (in our eyes) and we wanted to pay homage to the song rather than completely change it. With 'Love is Only A Feeling' (The Darkness) we had the choice to make it a quick and cheeky arrangement, or stay true to the love ballad roots and we decided we wanted to keep it in a love ballad style but really make it our own - it connected better to us as a truly sentimental piece of music.
"I know that there are people that view our band as a gimmick or simply think of us as a regular cover band, and that we just fanny about on stage and have a bit of a giggle but we are musicians. Sometimes we like to throw in songs that remind people of this."
There are a couple of songs where they hint at different possible futures for the band. On a medley of songs by The Prodigy with the excellent title 'Smack My Firestarter To Outer Space' they throw in some actual guitar and Marilyn Manson's 'The Beautiful People' gets another forties style arrangement but in a big band style. I asked if they would expand the live line up:
"Oh believe me, we think about this a LOT! We would absolutely love to do this. It's an absolute dream of ours to tour with a live band or better yet, a live BIG BAND. We were really blessed with two fantastic sets of musicians for 'Sequins & C-Bombs' on 'Smack my Firestarter into Outer Space' and 'The Beautiful People', giving us a taste of what our music is like with two different styles/types of bands.
"So whilst we love what we do and how we do it, we're always open to change and opportunity. Even if we try something and it doesn't work, we live and learn from every experience we take. Watch this space!"
'Sequins & C-Bombs' is simply a joy and while a lot of fun to listen to it also has depths and styles which show off superb musicianship and absolute confirmation these ladies are a massive amount more than just another covers band. Their own tagline is 'Tuneful, cheeky, glamorous and geeky' and that's all true but I would add in hugely talented and on the the way up too.
The album isn't available on iTunes yet but the 'Just The Tip' EP and 'Party Hard' single are so take a listen here and add them to your collection for just 79p per track. That's a bargain.
See them on their UK tour in October:
11th: Southampton, Talking Heads
12th: Guildford, Boileroom
13th: Manchester, Deaf Institute
14th: Leeds, Key Club
15th: Nottingham, Rock City Basement
19th: Cardiff, Globe
20th: Bristol, Exchange
21st: Birmingham, Sunflower Lounge
22nd: Newcastle, Think Tank
23rd: Edinburgh, Voodoo Rooms
26th: Brighton, Prince Albert
27th: London, 100 Club