Review: Kyle Gass Band – Thundering Herd (2016)

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Kyle Gass, best known as one half of comedy-rock duo Tenacious D, comes thundering back into town with his solo band’s second album. From the ashes of his first side project Trainwreck rose the almighty phoenix that is the Kyle Gass Band – no frills, no gimmicks, just a bunch of dudes rocking out and having some fun. Their eponymous first album was full of catchy quips and memorable melodies, but can Kage and his gang overcome the difficult second album syndrome with Thundering Herd…?

Right out of the gate, you know you’re going to be in for a good time. Much like the first album opened with the instant classic “Manchild”, the KGB’s second release opens with the infectious “Cakey” that stands tall as one of the best tracks in the band’s repertoire. It’s just so lively and upbeat, I’ve found myself listening to that one track alone on repeat time and time again.

Other standout tracks include the hard rocking “Hell (Or High Water)”, the fast-paced “Bring Her Back Better”, and manthem-for-the-ages “Bro Code”. The band’s comedy chops really shine in “Regretta”, a woeful tale about a misjudged relationship with a woman from one of their gigs. The references to Pilsner and sauerkraut are perfectly in line with the KGB’s success in Europe (Germany especially), and it’s nice to see them playing to their fans in small ways like this. There’s even a narrative driven follow-up to the epic “Gypsy Scroll” from the first album in the form of “Gypsy Scroll II: Toot of the Valley” which is equally impressive.

On the whole though, Thundering Herd feels less like a sequel and more like a companion piece to the first album. Nothing here dramatically re-invents the wheel, but it does help to flesh out the KGB’s style and identity – quite literally in fact, as three tracks (“Bone”, “Uncle Jazz”, “Mike Bray (Don’t Drink the Water)”) are entirely focused on introducing members of the band that more casual listeners may not be as familiar with. They’re short and sweet character themes that you can imagine being wheeled out one by one when starting off a show, but they’re unlikely to become staples in any other context. The two other members receive no such treatment – of course, it’s assumed that everyone knows who Kyle Gass is at this point, and presumably the same goes for Tenacious D’s electric guitarist John Konesky as well.

Overall, the Kyle Gass Band’s first album still remains the source for most of their high-hitting favourites – “Cakey” aside, nothing here quite reaches the lofty heights of “Our Job to Rock” or “Tremendous” – but that doesn’t make Thundering Herd any less of a success. It’s more of the same, and that’s by no means a bad thing. With a solid blend of laugh-inducing lyrics and ram-damn-bunctious riffs, there’s a lot to love about Kyle Gass’ return. This may be considered a side project to the might of Tenacious D, but it’s just as worthy of your time and money.

Track listing:

  1. Cakey
  2. Regretta
  3. Bro Code
  4. Hell Or High
  5. Bring Her Back Better
  6. Bone
  7. Uncle Jazz
  8. Mike Bray (Don’t Drink The Water)
  9. Mama’s Ma
  10. Gypsy Scroll II:Toot Of The Valley
  11. The Best We Could Do (In The Time Allotted)

Kyle Gass Band: Thundering Herd is out now on CD, LP and digital download!

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