iTunes Single of the Week: Kongos, “I’m Only Joking”

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The new Single of the Week in the iTunes Store comes from Kongos, a South African rock band composed of brothers Johnny, Jesse, Dylan and Daniel Kongos, now based in Phoenix, Arizona.  The single “I’m Only Joking” is from the album Lunatic, originally self-released but now re-released on major label Epic after garnering attention via radio and television on the strength of this song and its follow-up, “Come With Me Now.”  The brothers are the sons of John Kongos, a singer-songwriter known primarily for his 1971 UK Top Ten hit “He’s Gonna Step On You Again”, and this single has a distinctly 1970’s feel as well.

For some reason, the song sounds a little dark and Gothic to me, but at the same time, relentlessly…bouncy.  This brings me to the reason it comes off a bit retro– I haven’t really heard this kind of vibe since the heyday of shock-rockers like Alice Cooper and Kiss.  Granted, they don’t look like shock-rockers;  the look is more 90’s grunge, but the sound is eerily similar to an earlier era.  I’m going to be honest:  I wasn’t crazy about this song at first.  The rhythm line is a little simpler than I like, and I’m not a fan of minor keys, which it slips in and out of for maximum creep factor.  That’s all technical stuff, of course, and with repeat listens it has grown on me somewhat.  The simplistic drums are based off Burundi tribal beats, and they’re actually pretty cool;  the bass feels like it’s only a couple of chords, but it’s also a driving force, giving the song a characteristic swagger that doesn’t sound like anything on rock radio today.  My minor quibble is that the Single of the Week is “clean”– really, if the choice cut features the f-word prominently in the chorus, at least the Store should stand by its pick and not scrub the lyrics.   iTunes is a music store, not  a radio station, and getting the so-called “explicit” version should be an option.   Anyway, while it’s definitely a song I would have to be in the proper mood for, it’s a solid tune, and we’ll probably be hearing more from these guys– as I said, they don’t sound like anything else on rock radio, and the format has needed a kick in the pants for years now.  The SeriouslyFluffy Final Grade:  B-

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