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KingBathmat - Fantastic Freak Show Carnival CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

4.17 | 43 ratings

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4 stars If Radiohead were fun

I have a confession to make that will lower my credentials even more than they already are. I really don't like Radiohead very much post-Bends. Are they good, sure, are they important, fine. But I'll do almost anything to keep from playing their discs. Need your lawn mowed? I'm there. Anyway, when I'm looking for a great indie alternative rock band in the Radiohead/crossover realm, but actually want to have some fun at the same time with musicians who don't come off as self-important, I can reach for Kingbathmat's "Fantastic Freak Show Carnival." Released in 2005 the album sports an alternative rock/melodic pop backbone with hints of psychedelia, experimentation, and imagination. Think of a cross between "The Who Sells Out" and a John Frusciante album and you might have an idea what the Freak Show feels like.

Given that this is a one-man album it is very impressive how Bassett manages such a full and rich sound, sounding more like a full band with dual guitars. Punchy melodic pop and harder rock numbers occasionally escalate into longer jams, but for the most part the songwriting is succinct with great instincts. The secret weapon is Bassett's amazing self-harmonizing on his vocals...he has a voice very much like Frusciante but is capable of doubling over himself to create lush and lovely vocal presentations. "Sweet Iris" was my favorite for this reason, just glorious hazy psych-pop, mostly vocal, with light guitar for color. Mixed with his whimsical and perhaps slightly Syd Barrett nods, along with superb and tasteful guitar leads, the result is a very satisfying modern rock album. The final track finds him stretching out to 12 minutes and getting wilder, almost Kingston Wall territory. This excellent under-the-radar release eluded me for too long. Check it out, along with his new album "Truth Button."

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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