I envy anyone in Portland, Oregon who got a chance to see Karen Caskets live. On their debut album, “Gravitron” this playfully poignant grunge-rock trio (Kieran Caskets on drums and backing vocals, Carl Caskets on guitar and backing vocals, and Kitty Caskets on keyboards and lead vocals) delivers their experimental and aggressive anthems with a creative attitude that translates well on stage.
“Gravitron” growls at the listener, and the band wit their noisy guitar riffs evokes some sort of a live concert in an old rock club. This is one of those records that makes you sit up and take notice, and you have no idea why that should be. The album takes its time to set a mood, its heavy, rolling chords building inexorably, like waves in slow motion that will roll over you.
“Gravitron” is a 90’s grunge rock inspired debut album that explores the expansion of human sins, however they are born within us. An incomprehensible thing that cannot be cured by any of the known drugs out there. Only more dirty and powerful riffs will do the trick. And Karen Caskets will be happy to cure you, to cleanse you from all your misdeeds. The record is full of punky and grungy rock elements in the style of Nirvana and Soundgarden.
“Carl originally conceived of Karen Caskets by writing and recording a
few tunes,” Kitty says. “It gave me so much warmth and nostalgia for the 90s-era grunge rock I loved when I was a teenager. He invited me to try some vocals and I pretty much immediately began writing tunes for KC and adapting songs I had already written.” Inspired and recharged they set to work crafting the music album to the original songs.
“Since Carl and I both have a background in indie/folk, we write tunes that often begin with that sort of sound, then we turn up the fuzz and get loud with it.” says Kitty. “Collaborations come easy when we bring little bits of ideas and allow each other to expand on that. After a year of playing together, we had accumulated enough awesome songs to finally make a real album in a professional studio. It was very exciting to work with Cory@ Sisterly Silence Studios, he was so skilled, professional, and also funny and incredibly easy to work with.”
The first track “Belly of the Beast” will blow your head off! Trust me. If you are a fan of this genre, you will be ecstatic. At the beginning, “Gravitron” starts with the heavy fare of grunge rock accents as an introduction. The next track, wich is called “Gravitron”, comes up with a lot of power and some doom elements. Cool riffing, nice fat distortion and Kitty Casket’s thin voice make a wonderful combination.
“You’ll Send Me” and “At the Graveyard” keep hitting you with a sort of a subdued, but very refined style of their own brand of rock. Often in the vein of their punk brethren with a distinct grungy flavour at times. Like a heavily toned down mix of Nightmen and Nirvana.
“I love (most) music, from heavy metal to yacht rock, from blues and funk
to black metal, and I want to create sounds or songs that I want to hear that maybe don’t exactly exist yet.” says Carl Caskets. “It’s fun to mix and mess with genre (not that we’re experimental, we rely on genre, but it’s boring to be generic if that makes sense). More importantly, we want to share our art––the stuff we make, we want to share the sounds that we’re stoked on and hope other people are stoked on it as well.”
The second half of “Gravitron” suddenly spits out what can only be described as a garage demo record. It’s called “Misfits”. The song is indeed a varied affair, often adding a bit of fuzzy righteousness. On the other hand, Karen Caskets brings a lot of variety and special care to the songwriting and structures. This adds just the right amount of pepper to the sauce that is the essence of this album.
With the catchy “Mom, Can I Go Skate?” the band also dabbles in melancholy. The balance of the riffs and the weight of all the instruments make this track very memorable. “Death Beds” also tends towards a more punky sound, which is very much in keeping with Caskets’ sound. The song also takes the unusual approach of having powerful verses and more ethereal choruses with the back vocals taking centre stage.
“Death Beds” is the most straightforward rock track that give it grit and edge. The album is filled with the grunge atmosphere of their “ballad” and it could have walked right out of the early 1990s. “Gravitron” is slowly crawling towards the finale.
“Go On” adds a touch of blues, but is still hard rock. In the line “Death will save us, in the end” you can hear and feel all the emotional pain, disappointment and anger buried in the heavy guitar noise.
“Gravitron” ends with “Coffin Coolouts”, the drums roll in a great fusion of the two sides, ending the album by causing a riot again and you end the album by stepping on the repeat button.
“Because there is nothing in the world I like more than pure underground music.” – KC.
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