Rock Music for Grown-Ups
Scatterbrain, the 2017 release from KXM (RatPak Records), is a continuation of an excellent debut effort a few years earlier. But before getting too far into the details, any review of KXM should mention the all-star line up.
The stellar members include drummer Ray Luzier from Korn, guitarist George Lynch from Dokken, and bassist/vocalist dUg Pinnick formerly of Kings X.
With the (awesome) onslaught of classic band reunions, reconfigurations, and cross-bred new formations occurring in the hard rock idiom, it might be easy for KXM to get lost in the mire.
But no fear, KXM rises above their peers to create something brilliantly unique.
While listening to the well-over 1 hour of music on Scatterbrain, one conclusion reveals itself. Simply put, no one else is making music like KXM.
To quote a sentiment from Chris Cornell in Audioslave, the creative output of KXM “doesn’t remind me of anything.” And that’s one of their best attributes.
The Struts are quickly associated with the pop-side of Queen. Greta Van Fleet, with their wailing young vocalist, is called the new Zeppelin. Meanwhile, the Rival Sons channel the best of Humble Pie.
But KXM comes at you with seemingly no predecessor or precedent. Despite the obvious potential for them to sound like the offspring of their Kings X/Korn/Dokken influences, KXM has created a sonic space all their own.
A Dude’s Review of KXM
Standout titles on Scatterbrain include the title track, “Obsession,” and “Big Sky Country.” All three exhibit strong musical riffs along with intricate melodies and memorable choruses. But there are two songs that deserve special attention.
First, “Breakout” is an amazing track for multiple reasons. Pinnick delivers well-crafted vocals with a strong chorus. And Lynch’s guitar solo reminds us why he is such a master of melodic development.
But the highlight of “Breakout” is Luzier and his phenomenal drumming. Incredibly, the man has figured out how to integrate Gene Krupa’s big-band stylings into hard rock. Even if all the parts were muted except for Luzier’s drums, you would still know you’re hearing “Breakout” because he plays the song and not simply a groove. It’s a truly stunning display of modern rock drumming. And no, I’m not a drummer, but I can appreciate what Luzier’s done to make this track stand out.
Second, the song “Noises in the Sky” is the highlight of the album. It’s an absolute tour de force for the entire band.
The tune opens with an almost lazy riff punctuated by another interesting Pinnick lyric. But, like many of the greatest rock songs, the momentum soon builds and pulls you in.
The musical climax of “Noises” is marked with a Pinnick vocal scream just as Lynch turns his guitar into a sonic flame thrower. Completely bowing to his prowess, the band simply stops playing as Lynch blasts through his final cadenza. Wow! What a track.
In the contemporary world of rock music, it’s certainly a good thing that bands like the aforementioned Struts and Greta Van Fleet are finding success. I wish them all the best.
But when compared to an album like Scatterbrain from KXM, there is a glaring division between the boys and men. Pinnick, Luzier, and Lynch are clearly master craftsMEN at the height of their hard-rock powers.
I saw a report that the band already has another album in the works and I for one will not hesitate to support any music KXM shares with the world.
I rate it…5 out of 5 rock stars!
Pick up your preferred version of Scatterbrain here.