Fans of Kongos‘ 2014 Lunatic are in for a treat. Released in early June, Egomaniac has managed to stay somewhat under the radar, with the exception of a couple of singles. Much in the same way Lunatic was before it. Which is perhaps one of the things that I absolutely love about this band.
Kongos is an alternative rock-quartet consisting of four brothers Johnny, Jesse, Dylan, and Daniel. Originally from South Africa, their father, John Kongos is a noted singer-songwriter best known for his 1971 hit single “He’s Gonna Step On You Again.”
The brothers released their debut album in 2007. However, it was their 2014 hit single “Come With Me Know” that captured audiences all over the world. Unfortunately, their following single “I’m Only Joking” was not as popular. However, those adventurous music lovers that looked deeper into Kongos’ second album Lunatic were treated to music that pushed the boundaries of alternative rock.
With the upcoming release of Egomaniac, Kongos teased audiences by giving them a taste of what to expect on the album. The band offered the tracks “Take It From Me,” “Where I Belong,” and “I Don’t Mind” for immediate download to those who pre-ordered the album.
“Take It From Me” and “I Don’t Mind” featured the band’s typical sounds, that is the rougher beats, gruff accordion, and speaker busting vocals all with an African flare. At the opposite end of the spectrum, “Where I Belong” was much softer and melodic, but with their same flare. Unfortunately, these three singles didn’t entice many, and the album never rose very high on the charts.
However, for those whose dared venture beyond the singles, they were treated with music that once again tests the limits of alternative rock. The second track “The World Would Run Better” begins with an unusual disco beat, yet the cheeky lyrics and rambling vocals make the song. Sounding much like the chatter you hear from upcoming generations, the definitive “them vs. us” motif in the song is what I find most compelling.
The third track “I Want It Free” is lively with a fun beat. The song has a similar sound and feel to “Come With Me Now,” but I find the allusions to easy success, fame, and the fear of loosing what’s gained hilarious. It is almost like the Kongos are taking their success with a grain of salt, recognizing that nothing lasts forever.
The rock influences in “Underground” are stronger than the other tracks. However, the Kongos make the song a creation all their own by adding in their unique flare, heavy electronic beats, and dark lyrics. I’d admit that at first I couldn’t make sense of the lyrics. However, the reference to flight 305 peaked my interest. I did some research, and the song took on a whole new meaning. I’ll leave you with that.
“Autocorrect” is a hard electronic song without compare that takes an honest look at technology and its role in the Google-generation. I loved everything about this song. “Autocorrect” is incredibly thought provoking, and lyrics like “So in the future / Will my attention span / Hey, in the future / Think we’ll still do it by hand?” leave me wondering about my own reliance on technology for my knowledge base.
“Birds Do It” has a serious tone and melody, but it actually sounds like one long pick up line. However, the follow-up track “2 in the Morning” is totally opposite, focusing on love lost, and is somewhat sentimental, but in the best of ways. The arrangement of these two tracks together, along with “Look at Me” and “Hey You, Yeah You,” make me think that although Kongos’ songs sound independent from one another, like a bunch of singles tossed onto an album, there is a deeper relationship between each of their songs.
“Repeat After Me” is a lyrically driven song that visits the touchy subject of religion. The music is simple, and the multilayered chanting vocals are entrancing, making this song somewhat unsettling. The whispering of the chorus and the lower sung notes add to the effect. That being said, I can’t help but like the song and the eeriness of it.
Egomaniac ends with the lighter “If You Could” which asks would you do things differently. In a roundabout way, the song seems to be encouraging audiences to seize the day and live your life in a way that makes you happy.
I highly recommend checking out Egomaniac, and if you passed by it when it was first released, I really encourage you to reconsider. There are a lot of gems on the album, themes, beats, and music for many tastes. And if you find yourself becoming a new fan of Kongos, maybe think of checking them out live this fall:
9/23-25 Las Vegas, NV Life Is Beautiful Festival
9/25 Santa Cruz, CA The Catalyst
9/27 Spokane, WA Knitting Factory Concert House
9/29 Edmonton, Alberta Union Hall
9/30 Calgary, Alberta MacEwan Ballroom
10/1 Saskatoon, Saskatechewan Loui’s
10/2 Winnipeg, Manitoba Garrick Centre
10/4 Minneapolis, MN Varsity Theater
10/6 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
10/8 Montreal, Quebec Metropolis
10/9 Toronto, Ontario Danforth Music Hall
10/11 Rochester, NY Main Street Armory – Downstairs
10/12 Boston, MA The Royale
10/14 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore
10/15 New York, NY PlayStation Theater **
10/20 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
10/21 Houston, TX Warehouse Live
10/23 Dallas, TX Gas Monkey Live!
10/27 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
10/28 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
10/29 Phoenix, AZ Dia De Los KONGOS at Crescent Ballroom Outdoors