If you are a fan of the Alternative Rock band KONGOS and have not yet discovered Bus Call – Life On Tour on YouTube, do yourself a favor, check it out! Giving an all-access pass to their fans, by inviting them along for the ride, the band of brothers – Danny, Johnny, Dylan, and Jesse Kongos – make themselves very accessible individuals in the eight-part documentary series. What could be considered the family business, seeing the chart-topping success in South Africa by their father John Kongos in the 1970s, the musical legacy continues with this band. Attaining multi-platinum success with their 2012 single “Come with Me Now,” and spending a few years touring the world, KONGOS are back with their forthcoming album, 1929: Part 1, set for release Friday, January 18, 2019.
Their fourth overall album, and a follow-up to 2016’s Egomaniac, 1929: Part 1 is different than their previous work right from first downbeat of the opening track. A ten song musical trip through the evolution of a Rock band, “Something New” is a prophetic opening that is an expression of the shifting tone. Lush instrumentation wraps through the cut along with a strolling tempo peppered with the staccato accordion that is blended into lyrics which are pointing to a singular fact theme.
Thinly veiled, “I Am Not Me” feels like something out of a Hollywood gangster musical from the 1940s. Creating a vibe, then comes “Stand Up” with a melodic trip, percussive echoes haunting like a clipped off the declaration of reality. Probably the most like music from 2012’s Lunatic and Egomaniac, the single “Pay For the Weekend” is an anthem complete with gang vocals, and is definitely a new incarnation of an old friend.
Moving on, like an old school Rock ballad, KONGOS deliver “Wild Hearts” with a vocal purity that shifts the focus away from the desolation of the lyrical content. More than half way through the album, there could be a deeper meaning wrapped within the song “Real Life” featuring soft-spoken imagery. Then again, it could just be the fact that the song is twisted with irony in the bigger masterpiece painted with each note. That is up to the listener to decide.
Keeping it interesting, KONGOS strut in the groove with “Keep Your Head,” a mixed bag of instrumentation which suggests pure Rock and Glam Funk. Understated brilliance, heading out of the first of what will eventually be a three-part collection is “Everything Must Go,” which drifts back to the Rock aesthetic that fans may have become accustomed to. However, there is more to Kongos than just the past hits. This is evident with the album finale featuring “When You’re Here,” a trippy haunting slow groove, along with the quick clipped “4543,” a guitar-driven piece.
Always the skilled musicians, Johnny (accordion, keyboards, vocals), Jesse (drums, percussion, vocals), Daniel (guitar, vocals), and Dylan Kongos (bass guitar, lap slide guitar, vocals) have honored the family legacy by creating music that embraces their international heritage which has shaped the band’s brand of Alternative Rock. With 1929: Part 1, KONGOS are now more clearly defined by a sound that has matured, adding deeper credibility to their place in the modern music scene. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.