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From Lowfive to Bangkok Five
By Keavin Wiggins

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Now that Travis has done his usual excellent job at reviewing this disc it makes my job that much harder to offer a different take on this album. Since he covered a lot of the same things I would have (and much better than I could have) I have decided to take my review in a slightly different direction and to be honest there is no way I can offer an objective review of this band. The reasons will become apparent as you read on. Thus, that is why you are reading this as an addendum to Travis' review instead of a Tag Team. 

I've had the privilege to watch this band from its infancy grow to the group that has earned Travis' praise. That being said I was duly impressed the first time I saw them a few years back. The band was called Lowfive at the time and Coates had just joined the group. I'd known him from one of his previous bands and I've have written about his insane bass talent on several occasions. He really is one the best bass players I have ever seen. At the time the group featured Nick Lucero of Queens of the Stone Age fame and Peter Perdichizzi of the Flies on guitar. So they had some heavyweights in their corner but the secret weapon was their frontman Frost, who came out and took command of the audience from the first chord and didn't relinquish it until the last note of their sweat soaked encore. Musically at that point, I would describe them at Tool meets The Cult and like many in the audience this was my first exposure to the group and they made an easy convert to the cause. 

A few weeks later I saw them again and in that short time they had already evolved musically. The one thing that impressed me early off was that every time you saw them they were that much better and a little different as if you were watching the sonic evolution unfold. One big highlight for me and a show I'll never forget is when this incarnation of the band headlined the second night of antiFEST 02 and blew everyone away. Watching them up on that stage that night I knew in the back on my head that this was a band destined for greatness if they got the proper breaks in this insane business. 

Since I'm throwing all of the standard reviewing rules out the window in this self-indulgent write up, I have to relay a story that to me showcases exactly what is wrong with the music business but in the end talent does rule the day in some rare cases. The band was playing an amazing set at a Hollywood club and they were really on that night. In walks a major label A&R guy and minor celebrity that we'll call Pinhead. I will say that it's probably pretty much impossible to watch this band perform and not be impressed and get caught up in it and Pinhead was totally into the show and was quick with the much deserved praise afterwards. I'm thinking in the back of my head that I'll have a cool new story about being there when this band was discovered but of course Pinhead dropped the ball. In fact, he was bragging about snapping up a crap emo band that was dropped by another label and went no where on Pinhead's label. Great call Pinhead!

In a way it may have been a blessing in disguise because obviously an A&R guy at a competing label saw the potential in this group and we now have their major label debut with a stronger label behind it. But it also gave them the chance to get that much better, solidify an impressive lineup and evolve that much more before they recording the album we are supposed to be talking about today. But this story just goes to show that most major labels are run by Pinheads. Then again the stupidity and unwillingness to put quality over trendiness makes a standout album like this one stand out that much more!

Now to that major label debut, Who's Gonna Take Us Alive?. I'm obviously biased when it comes to this band but I have to tell you that the first time I heard it, this album blew me away. I knew how great they were but I expected an album of this quality a few albums down the line from them. Full throttled riffs, fist pounding grooves and infectious hooks are the order of the day here and just when you think they can't push it any further the next track comes on to take it way past 11! To be honest, I expected to know most of the songs on this album but much to my pleasant surprise, 90% of the songs were totally new to me so I got to appreciate this album with virgin ears and it far surpassed my expectations. 

It wouldn't be fair to compare it to say Appetite for Destruction because that is apples and oranges but this album hit me in the similar way the first time I heard it and solidified my belief that this band is indeed destined for greatness. The quality is definitely there and if the stars align properly we may all look back in ten years at this album as just the beginning for a superstar group. They definitely have it in them to achieve those lofty heights and the next biggest thing in their favor is their willingness to branch out and evolve. This isn't a stale by the numbers group that will keep retreading the same songs over and over. As I said earlier, each time you see these guys they are that much better and that much further down the road and while Who’s Gonna Take Us Alive? is an amazing debut, I have the feeling that we 'ain't seen nothing yet!' 

Who knows what the future holds for this band? The sky is the limit. They've outdone their part, now it's up to you dear reader to take a chance on a band that has it in them not only to go the distance but also be one of the few bands that can change road rock in on (with hundreds of broken mic stands along the way). 

For those that have made it this far, thank you for sticking around. I only have two requests for you. 1) go back and read Travis' review again for a far better critical take on this album 2) go buy this CD at once! A couple years from now you may be able to tell people you caught on rather early and better yet when you suddenly hear random people proclaim "I love Kok!" you'll know what the hell they are talking about. 


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