Kitty and the Kowalskis
Chinese Democracy (Amp)
by Ewan Wadharmi
At first glance (and last), The Kowalskis are enjoyably naïve ’70s punk purveyors. In the event that you don’t get your own Ramones reference, they’ve been kind enough to include two (2) tributes to the drab four. Not covers, mind you, but homages like “Oh Dee Dee” which declares “53rd and 3rd was never too far away/ at the end of the day/ you did it your way.” Kitty delivers deliberate and oftentimes cutesy vocals which resemble The Dickies’ Leonard Phillips, though without Phillips girlie warble. The unique punk hymn “Ain’t No Saint” is a clever re-working of “May The Circle Be Unbroken.” And there’s a bang-up cover of The Dictators’ “I Love You Baby But I Hate Your Friends.” But in the midst of this Converse and denim CBGB’s RIP riffage is the astounding “Matter of Time,” which deserves a review all its own.
Miss Kitty drops the tough girl front to gently reveal the heartbreak that got her there. Sympathetic acoustic guitar plucks out sorrowful country ripples, and gorgeous lilting background vocals lend their moral support. The band sneaks in and pushes through the bar to where the organ player lives. And then comes the pedal steel. That’s right, mournful, heart-wrenching pedal steel! Right amongst the chugging X-flavored country punk. It’s the flipside of Bif Naked’s romantic epic “The Lucky Ones.”