Los Kikes are based out of Tel Aviv, Israel and they’re absolutely filthy.
Their self-titled record has a history that reaches back more than a decade. Charlie Megira recorded them back in 2004. If you don’t know Charlie, the rock n’ roll Israeli legend, do your homework. He deserves a whole post or book to himself and the world lost him back in 2016, but that’s a story for another day. Sshaking Records brought the album out on CD in 2006. Twintoe Records released it on vinyl less than a year ago in September of 2017 when they played a killer, very hot show for the release in Berlin at a very packed K9.
Now, to the music. In one sense, it is familiar enough. By this I mean that under the gruesome vocals and utter distortion and sheer volume, the foundation of many of the tracks pay homage to classic surf drum beats and melodies. These old rock n’ roll tunes draw you in, but the absolutely gigantic bass lines, unrelenting bass drums, cymbal crashes, tempo switches and gritty vocals turn a relatively simple surf formula into hardcore quicker than the twitch of a bloody heartbeat. I see this record as simultaneously beautiful and brutal. This balance and contrast shows true musicianship and technique.
Remember all the ‘sketches’ back on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic? There were so many little joke tracks like The $20 Sack Pyramid which interrupted the listener and served to clear the musical palette for the next song, much like the way wine connoisseurs take a small piece of bread in between different wines to reset their taste buds. This record is full of these little intros. To understand the first intro track, you need to turn your record player up to 45 rpm. At the end of side A, there’s a recording of a woman loudly enjoying the act of love-making while a smooth Egyptian melody plays in the background. One of them is a clip from the court scene in the film, Guilty as Sin. These intros serve to keep the record fresh with each new listen.
The track I keep coming back to is Berserker. In an album full of short punk songs, I see this as the epic 7:00 pièce de résistance. It starts off sludgy and slow with dramatic grunts, lulling you into headbanger’s paradise and then suddenly switches to speed-driven hardcore punk and then back to slow and sludgy. The tempo grinds to a halt just in time for the snare drum to bring the listener back to life. It’s rough. It’s raw. It’s a look in the mirror in the middle of a furious fit of rage.
If you can’t make it out to the festival, you can order the record from Twintoe’s Bandcamp or Discogs. They’ve had a steady stream of great releases in recent history, so take a look and crank up your speakers.
Ha’Yehoodonim and Los Kikes are both back in Berlin this weekend for On Fire Fest. The lineup looks cool, so check it out!