CD Review: Juke Kartel / Levolution
Juke Kartel Rating:
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Reviewed by: Justin Bartz
I’ve been searching for some new music to get into so when I first heard Juke Kartel’s new album Levolution I was pumped up. I love every genre of music, but this was my first exposure to Juke Kartel and I admit that I knew nothing about them going in. The band (Toby Rand on vocals, Tommy Kende on bass, Todd Burman on guitar and keys, Dale Winters on guitar and Jason Pinfold on drums) hail from Australia and have been playing together since 2006. They recently made the move from down under to the States in anticipation of their first US debut. Some music aficionados may be familiar with front man Toby Rand from his time on the TV reality show Rockstar Supernova. After doing a little research, I found that Toby finished 3rd in the Rockstar Supernova competition and subsequently Juke Kartel toured with Tommy Lee and Co. on the official follow up tour, so that’s pretty cool.
Levolution was released on September 28th on Carved Records. Let’s check it out. The album kicks off with “Anybody Out There” a song that serves as a formidable introduction to the band. At first listen I thought I was listening to Sigur Rós for the first 30 seconds or so. This upbeat opening track reminds me of Brian Van Meter and Temple Scene’s type of music.
Who does singer Toby Rand sound like? I’m trying to figure it out through the early part of this album. The second track “My Baby” is a mid-tempo aggressive track that reminds me of a weaker version of My Chemical Romance. Lyrically the track talks about the rollercoaster that is a rock and roll relationship. Enter at your own risk.
On to the third track “Bullet Wearing Trademark Clothes”. Wow, this is a heavier opening now. I’m digging this and I love the chorus. This is my early favorite track, and I figured out who Toby sounds like. He reminds me of Ed Kowalczyk from the band Live, especially during this chorus. I don’t want to say he’s a “dead ringer” for him, but he’s close.
The next track is an acoustic song called “If Only”. Toby’s vocals sound like Rob Thomas in the intro to this song and each verse, interesting combination which I approve of. This song will definitely go over well in a live setting.
After hearing “The Sign”, we come upon “Save Me”, another song with a pretty heavy intro. It’s a cool track with a powerful chorus where Toby sounds like Kowalczyk again.
“Road of Glass” is another upbeat track that sounds pretty cool, followed by the bluesy-acoustic song “Soulshaper”. I was reading about Juke Kartel’s “nod to the blues” and now I finally get to hear it here. Hearing both “extremes” (acoustic and hard rocking) on this album, I think they do both of them justice while finding a great balance between the two. Another mid-tempo-possible-future-live-staple “December” comes next, which reminds me a lot of the British rock band Your Vegas. I LOVE that band, so that’s a very good thing.
Next up is “Throw It Away”. Wow, awesome intro – another hard rocking tune. The intro reminds me of a modern alternative version of Whitesnake’s “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”. This is an energetic, high octane track. Aside from right before the last verse, it’s a hard rocker all the way through. A DEFINITE second listen and a great rock anthem! The album ends with two more tracks that remind me again of Your Vegas. Both “On Fire” and “Find Out” are fairly upbeat songs, so at least the album is going out with a bang.
Overall, this was a very favorable first impression of Juke Kartel for me. I counted five songs I had to put on repeat the first time through the album and going through the songs again, I think “Bullet Wearing Trademark Clothes””, “Save Me” and “Throw It Away” are going to be added to my regular playlist of new music I’m playing. I’d definitely check out Juke Kartel live if they come through my area. Checking their tour dates on their Myspace page, I see a couple shows at House of Blues in West Hollywood for now, so I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned for full touring info. Although the five tracks I previously mentioned were definite favorites, I didn’t get a feeling of any filler on this album. A great listen all the way through, so I’m giving these Aussies a very solid 4 out of 5 stars… mate.
If you’re in LA, you can check out Juke Kartel playing with Slash tonight at the House of Blues! You can also preview the album below: