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Welcome Kings

Daddy's Hands

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Album Review

The album title is sadly ironic. Although Daddy's Hands have been sporadically active since the mid-'90s in their hometown of Victoria, British Columbia and their adoptive home of Montreal, Quebec, Welcome Kings is only their second proper CD, and it was released several months after singer, songwriter and general provocateur Dave Wenger was killed by a hit and run driver in Montreal in November 2006. Recorded in bits and pieces after the original lineup of Daddy's Hands had disbanded following the drug-related death of keyboardist Emily Bauslaugh, Welcome Kings sounds as rough as a set of demos bashed out in an hour in a cheap studio, but its ultra-loose, all over the map aggression and the songs' tendency to fly apart into noisy freak-outs are only part of the story. Listen more closely to songs like "Swing Low" or the grinding yet oddly danceable opener "Dress You Down" and Wenger's skills as both a songwriter and sore-throat non-singer become clear. The most obvious point of comparison is to early Pere Ubu: Wenger favors a similar blend of punky aggression and arty free improv noisemaking, and at times, his yowling vocals sound more than a little like David Thomas minus the falsetto. Even more interestingly, hearing Welcome Kings will alert Canadian-savvy listeners to a big part of where bands like Wolf Parade and Frog Eyes copped a lot of their ideas: Welcome Kings is a less controlled, noisier, sloppier version of those bands' far more manicured aesthetic. In less than a generation's time, Dave Wenger may be remembered as Montreal's Peter Laughner.

Welcome Kings, Daddy's Hands
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