Palatable like the cheese it’s named after, Kane Strang’s latest record, Blue Cheese, packs a creative punch. Despite the fact that the tracks are quick, over in the blink of an eye, their melodies hang around in your brain space, again, like the flavor of the cheese for which the album is named. Psych-pop-garage rocker, Kane Strang, is originally from Dunedin, New Zealand where he wrote his debut full length while house sitting for his folks. This writing environment was similar in a sense to the one which lead to the creation of his demos, A Pebble and a Paper Crane, which was a WWII bomb shelter in Germany: both lonely places, dripping thick with memories of your past, and others, perhaps a rich source of inspiration and writing material. Within Blue Cheese are mentions of being lonely, moments in which he alludes to this empty space in which he developed the record, both glaringly obvious lyrics like:
I’m a lonely boy, never kissed a blonde (“Never Kissed a Blonde”)
I won’t answer my telephone, sit inside all alone. (“The Web”)
Or more subtle moments where within his lyrics, you can sense the introspection and reflection that came with the fact that he was spending a significant amount of time alone, writing music. In a number of tracks, he seems to be singing to a woman. Whether the mention of this woman in different tracks refers to the same woman, I don’t know but whoever she/they are, they’re on his mind.
Blue Cheese is a deeply satisfying record, it’s like an 11 course meal at a fancy restaurant. Each track is its own dish: small bites of music that satiate but don’t overfill, bursting with unique flavors that are different from each other track but still clearly from the same source.
The record opens with “The Web” with its grungy, growling bass and abrupt finish, immediately followed by a bit of advice from Kane Strang himself in “Things Are Never Simple.” Then comes “Full Moon, Hungry Sun” which opens with a guitar riff that sounds like it could’ve come straight off an album by The Strokes. The moment of similarity disappears as soon as Kane Strang launches into meat of the track, showcasing his distinctive songwriting style.
There’s a certain kind of simplicity to Kane Strang’s music. Back to back tracks “What’s Wrong” and “The Canyon Her River Carved” offer melodic simplicity nested in instrumental complexity. My favorite part of “What’s Wrong” is when at one point in the track, a simple conversation occurs, one which all of us are all too familiar with:
One of my favorites on the record is “You Think.” It’s my favorite for a lot of reasons: the synthesizer, the lyrics, the insanely catchy melody and the irresistible urge to sing along when the “ba da ba’s” come in. This track is a lot of fun, that’s all that can be said.
Finally, I can’t talk about Blue Cheese without bringing up “Never Kissed A Blonde.” The guitars are ridiculous on this song. It opens sounding like something out of a Scooby Doo episode. You feel like you and the gang are trying to solve the mystery as to why he’s ‘never kissed a blonde’ even though he knows ‘they taste like sugar!’