Kekker: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 + 2

Kekker: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 + 2 is available from Kool Kat Musik and Bandcamp. Album photography by Troy Nelson.

The first ten seconds of this album will grab you coming right out of the gate, and it won’t let go for the next 30 minutes. “Greatest Hits Volumes 1 + 2” is easily one of the best albums of 2020, and its opener, “Doveroverland,” is only one of the 10 gems waiting for you.

It begins with a big, beautiful, bold blast of rhythm guitar, followed by rock-solid bass and drums, and the effortlessly cool, confident, Macca-ish, Robin Zander-ish vocals of Keith Matheson. This is what you get when the right musicians are paired with smart, tight, well-written songs that weave gracefully in and out of a number of styles, often within the same song. The ten tracks on “Greatest Hits Volumes 1 + 2” are well-paced, a brilliant mix of full-frontal, yet melodic volume, venturing into Beatles turf, even a little bit of what might be considered Prog (“Parachute”), and a few other influences that we’ll delve into shortly.

I asked Keith about the guitar used on “Doveroverland,” which appears in the video…it’s a Hofner Verythin, with the leads performed on a Yamaha Telecaster fitted with Gibson P-100 pickups. It’s a lethal combo, delivering melody and volume and punch that ignite every song on the album.

“My Dog” opens with a volume swell of feedback and menace, a little taste of the Gilmour-centric Floyd, before resolving into a slow, deliberate backing riff. The sound is fantastic…think Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” filtered through any number of slow burners from Cheap Trick. By the time you’re two songs into the album, you’ll pick up on one of the band’s singular gifts…the vocals and instruments are really intertwined, this band is a unit, a precise and melodic and loud elite force.

“Parachute” is a true surprise, the outlier on the album when compared to the vibe other tracks, but it adds a wonderful tone and pacing to the two songs that preceded it. The track begins with a subtle, stacatto melody, joined by bass and vocals, as keyboards weave in and out. If you’ve heard European Prog bands like Gazpacho, this track will greet you like an old friend. And then, around the 2:20 mark, there’s a magnificent Ennio Morricone / Twin Peaks otherworldly spaghetti space western guitar solo, like Duane Eddy floating in zero gravity, before returning to the somewhat tense, measured, precise vibe.

“Uncommon Angel” is a crunchy, riff-driven “story song” about a girl who “has her breakfast at a quarter of five…ask anyone, she doesn’t know she’s alive, don’t you wish we could all be as sinful?” The track has a surging, fuzzy backdrop reminiscent of the best songs you’ve heard from Matthew Sweet and Marshall Crenshaw, with the same kind of benign-yet-jaded view of the song’s protagonist.

“Mercy” begins with an airy, “Strawberry Fields” keyboard riff with a distinct McCartney feel in the vocal delivery. The track is pure Sgt. Pepper’s all the way, but not in a derivative way. The influences here are deeply assimilated into the band’s sound, not worn on their sleeves.

“Real World People” adds beautifully arranged background vocals, more power pop, riff-based, Beatle-flavored backing, and could easily be a single. You’ll be hearing it soon on the There Once Was A Note, and I’m sure you’ll agree.

The next two tracks, “Family Bird” and and “Poor Spy,” follow in the spirit of the songs that came before them, while the album’s closer is a dramatic one-two punch of the anthemic, wide-screen epic “Family Friendly” and the sweet acoustic track “Suppertime.” The Fab Four influence, especially on “Family Friendly,” will remind you of early Jeff Lynne in The Move and his initial ELO albums. It’s an attitude rather than a strict sound…the album isn’t a game of “spot the influence,” it’s more of a “How would (fill in any of the artists named above) approach this one?” situation. And that’s the point where influence and inspiration part the seas for true originality. Kekker is a band that has been to all of the right places, and will now take you to new and uncharted territory.

Greatest Hits Volumes 1 + 2 is the debut solo album from Edinburgh-based songwriter Keith Matheson (guitar & vocals), featuring Gregor Philp (guitar) and Dougie Vipond (drums, both of Deacon Blue), Ged Grimes (bass, ex-Danny Wilson and now Simple Minds) and from the younger generation of Dundee music talent Andrew Mitchell (keyboards, The Hazey Janes, Idlewild and SAY Award shortlisted in 2019 for his Andrew Wasylyk album The Paralian).

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