Wednesday, September 12, 2007

King Louie! and the Loose Diamonds

New Orleans native King Louie Bankston was, among other things, the whole of a one-man band, drummer for the Royal Pendletons and keyboardist/co-songwriter for an early phase of the Exploding Hearts. As of this year, he's already got a new project called Black Rose Band, who have a sold-out seven-inch on Contaminated Records and are aiming to release a full-length in the near future. While he was rushing to figure out the future of Black Rose Band, Bankston released a record this past June with the Loose Diamonds, Memphis Treet, on Portland's Empty Records.

The album itself actually is sort of a treat (pardon - treet) because of the little interesting bits that surround it; for one, it was partially recorded in the Mississippi studio of Jim Mathus – yes, of Squirrel Nut Zippers – who also contributed a bit of guitar to the album. Apparently it was finished with Mathus because the initial recording studio in use burned down and left the album masters untouched. And if you're an Exploding Hearts fan, you'll notice that third track “Gypsy Switch” sounds familiar. I wrote Louie Bankston and asked for a bit of enlightenment, to which he responded that “Gypsy Switch” was a song by (yet another of his old bands) 10-4 Backdoor. If you've got the final Exploding Hearts collection, last year's Shattered, you'll find that title track “Shattered” is a cover of “Gypsy Switch” borrowed by Adam Cox and altered to fit the sneering style of the Exploding Hearts' power pop. Meanwhile, Bankston's version is lax and bar-bluesy, and his gruff vocals are a clear focal point, whereas Terry Six's guitar had dominated the Hearts' cover.

Otherwise, Memphis Treet is an ultra-American, rootsy blues-rock album that reflects its physical history in Tennessee and Mississippi, and is a collaboration with musicians who've worked with Bankston in the past (drumming from Jack Oblivian, for whose Tearjerkers Bankston played drums, and additional guitar playing from Chad Booth, a former Kajun SS bandmate). My guess is that Jim Mathus played guitar on “Wheelbarrow Whiz,” an instrumental that's more jazzy than bluesy. I also wouldn't find it shocking if Bankston had used the phrase “doggone pity” prior to recording the tribute to loneliness that is “Montagne De l'Amour.” The album's back cover says to file under “Power Pop and Memphis Grease,” but it's more a generous heaping of the latter, and you'll likely dig this if you're into early rockabilly or blues rock. Give 'er a try!

Exploding Hearts - Shattered
King Louie and the Loose Diamonds - Gypsy Switch
King Louie and the Loose Diamonds - Untitled Lament
Purchase Memphis Treet

And see Louie's new project, Black Rose Band, if you're in the south this fall:

9.22 - The Green Room - Covington, LA
9.24 - Saturn Bar - New Orleans, LA
9.29 - Gonerfest 4 - Memphis, TN
10.13 - Circle Bar - New Orleans, LA


King Louie said...

Jimbo played on "lookin for a Heart"... Louie

China said...

Ah! Thanks for clearing that up - it's difficult to tell because I'm not sure of whether he'd have used Squirrel Nut Zippers-style guitar or one more suited to your music. Thanks much.

King Louie said...

I think that all the stuff Jimbo in this decade is miles and miles away from the SNZ...I don't even really see a compairison. He asked if he could lay the guitar track he did on "LOOKIN' FOR A HEART" and listened to it afew times and then dubbed it... Look for Jimbo Mathus/Black Rose Band 45 soon. Were gonna be playing on two songs that Jimbo and I wrote!!!

China said...

Well shit, that's one more person to keep track of. Thanks for the heads up on the 45, I'll definitely look for it when it's out.

Anonymous said...

In spite of every part of the emotion being stimulated by his approaching ‘homecoming’, Bankston declines to get sentimental concerning his days in Portland, having a preference to mesmerize about some of the wilder times. “Some of my favorite memories are when all of my friends would come and visit me at the amusement park and go nuts and get drunk on the rides. Or the basement of [former 10-4 Backdoor bandmates] Sara Hot Stix and Joe Pestilence’s house. Everything you could imagine and more happened in that basement. You couldn’t wash the walls down there. You’d have to burn the whole %^&%*&$% house down.”

Brilliant post!