[Editor's note: This album review previews Kris Lager Band's pair CD release shows. The Bourbon hosts the first on Friday night, and the second takes place at Perry's Place in Omaha on Saturday night.]
by Cory Kibler
On the evening of Friday, September 14 at 9 p.m., the Kris Lager Band will release Swagadocious, their hot-off-the-press, full-length record, and the next morning, the Bourbon Theatre might have to replace its doors, and possibly its roof. The theme for the show is “Thrift Store Funk.” As the KLB says, “When you dress funky, you feel funky.”
The Kris Lager Band plays roots music, a label that is both extremely descriptive and not informative at all. Like all good roots music, they draw from the genres of blues, soul, and classic rock to create songs that speaks to the hardships and hopes of the people. It's music about being depressed, being joyful, getting fucked up, dancing your ass off and getting your heart broken. But the term “roots music” doesn’t really speak to what makes KLB’s new record different.
Musically, the album — recorded at SadSon Music Group — is hot-hot-hot. Lager knows it, too; I am almost 100 percent positive that he whispers, “Oh, shit yeah,” during the opening track, “Come to Boogie/Now You Know.” Like any blues/soul band worth their salt, the Kris Lager has mastered their instruments.
That makes sense: These guys have been doing this a long time (they even managed to snag blues vet Magic Slim for a track called “Kris Done Took My Woman”), and they never falter. Some spots of the record reminded me of Songs in the Key of Life-era Stevie Wonder; other spots capture what I think Ray LaMontagne and the Black Keys are trying to capture.
On songs like “Gypsy Lady,” they use a horn section that pushes the record to the next level. The horn parts, along with some tasteful and soulful church organ, help give the Kris Lager Band a flavor that sets them apart from other bands of the same breed.
The record gets confusing on “Get Back w/ Fairchild Rap!” though. Drummer John Fairchild adds a hip-hop verse to the song, and there’s some turntable-esque scratching on the guitar strings, and it’s all combined with fast-paced blues rock song. Taken individually, the components of the song are solid, but when added together, the song loses its focus.
The best moment of the record happens on “Couple Skate.” It’s a wonderfully sad soul song that puts Lager’s aching heart on display, and the gentle layered horns make this a standout track. If this song is never played during a newly married couple’s first dance, it’s a crime.
So hit up the Goodwill, pick out a funky vest/bowtie combo, and get down to the Bourbon Theatre to check out The Kris Lager Band (along with Slim Cessna’s Auto Club). Maybe pick out some comfortable dancing shoes as well.
Cory Kibler is a guy who plays music with his band The Sleepover, and who enjoys college football and the Internet. He has performed Google searches of college football in the past.