"2019 feels like someone in a mask appearing round the corner every 3 seconds," says Lucas Kwong, songwriter and frontman for THE BROTHER K MELEE. Kwong is explaining the album art for Get Inside, the band's new EP, but he could be talking about the music itself: restless rock and roll that's determined to take you by surprise.
The mask, designed by Steve Wintercroft (www.wintercroft.com) and worn by guitarist Adel Bagli on the cover, could also stand for the identity crisis that birthed the band. Originally titled Brother K, the Brooklyn-based band was founded in 2011, when Kwong, dissatisfied with the volume of his solo folk efforts, decided to meld the garage rock revivalism of his adolescence with his childhood devotion to Fifties rock 'n' roll. The project began life as a primal blues/rockabilly two-piece with David Cornejo on drums, before evolving to embrace punk, psychedelia, and a host of unruly influences: Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Nirvana, The Stooges, The White Stripes, Hamburg-era The Beatles, garage-gospel acts like The Caravans.
"We're drawing from a large pool, but to me, all good rock is just a release valve for modern anxiety," Kwong muses. "These are anxious times." Now featuring Bagli and bassist Sam Shaw, the band channels their jitters into anthems for dead saints, democracy, and that one dream you can't shake on Get Inside. To paraphrase the chorus of lead single "No Fault," hope it's some relief.