KXM - Scatterbrain

KXM Scatterbrain cover
Rat Pak Records
KXM is a trio that includes guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob etc), drummer Ray Luzier (KoRn and others) and Kings X front man, Doug Pinnick.
Doug gives it a definite King’s X flavor, although much of the band’s identity is also defined by Luzier’s dynamic drumming and Lynch’s chameleon-like guitar skills that are applied as necessary, sounding more modern rhythmically, but more vintage when he solos.
Compared to other similar left field “trios” made up of rockers who want to flex different musical muscled, with a more fused style, KMX manages to very tastefully do so and in large part does so, due to the great songwriting and melody lines the 3 musicians come up with as there was never ever a doubt that musically they’d be top notch.
Without being strictly bound to one style, or trying to be overtly commercial or contemporary, but effortlessly managing to check both those two boxes, “Scatterbrain” transcends boundaries and genres, ever being rocking and prog, but doing so with incredible gusto.
The eponymous song is a modern sounding aggressive rocker, with just the right amount of melody to keep it interesting.
But as soon as the second track “Breakout” bursts out of the speakers, the band diversifies the sound, an awful lot. A lyrical funky track led by one heavy riff and even incorporating tribal elements, it easily turns heads with its eclectic by poignant perfection.
“Big Sky Country” continues with the heavy riff lead idea, but has some really neat melodies intersecting it, serving some pop/rock sensibilities, making the rather important theme behind its lyrics, very accessible.
“Calypso” is weird… antagonizing its heavy parts with a cool chorus that turns the tables completely stylistically, without breaking away from the song’s character too much, but definitely displaying great imagination on behalf of its composers.
“Not a Single Word” is interesting in that it starts almost in a reggae/ska way, and it often falls back to that motif, but has forays into rocking territory; again managing to combine styles almost seamlessly. Sounding like an updated “Hendrix” tune.
“Obsession” sees the band really going for a more minimal approach – leaving a lot of space for DP to obsess over with a great focus on the vocal and the undercurrent melodies.
“Noises in the Sky” starts off unassumingly enough with some tasteful licks, but suddenly climaxes in a way that’s quite reminiscent of Anders Johansson’s “Glorius” bridge, a bit poppy, but oh so perfect and that’s only one of the many moments to aural satisfaction the track offers.
“Panic Attack” kicks off with a couple of hypnotic, repetitive minutes to really embody it’s title with a tight and claustrophobic atmosphere throughout that would have been too monotonous if not for Lynch’s tasteful lead in the middle.
“It’s Never Enough” gets the funk back – a lot more rhythmical, percussive and “dirty”, running the danger of becoming a bit to samey, but elegantly managing to avoid it, by some clever variations towards the end.
“True Deceivers” apart from the smart pun, manages to roll up a lot of different influences and sounds in one almost cohesive song, in which the standout solo probably feels a bit foreign, but not spoiling the overall enjoyment. I was probably expecting something a little different to be honest.
“Stand” makes a very smart and effective use of vocal tones, in a “sleeper” song of protest that sticks around and sticks it up, by being persistent with its haunting, hypnotizing slow but deep melodies…
“Together” despite a drum barrage during its opening moments, soon goes into a psychedelic poppy and longing mode and repeats a strong idea, harmonizing over it in a hazy acid pop way… which is just beautiful.
Finally, “Angel” is a smooth number to sign you off, in a bitter sweet and melodic way that fits the whole album’s atmosphere perfectly.
One hell of an achievement for a jammed out album to be this good, since other “such attempts” have let to dubious results (ie a lot of the DT jammed albums that seemed superficial and uninspired at closest inspection). This sophomore effort while darker, than the band’s debut, is a sure step ahead. Fans of King’s X, Winery Dogs and prog with a soul should dig this release a lot!