This is a review of "Maui" recorded by Kava Kava. The review was written by Sam Saunders in 2003.
Kava Kava are a real band doing clubs and festivals with total commitment to the music they love. It's acid funk and it's live on stage with pounding drums, big guitar and wah wah pedals. It's Doobie Brothers meets Sly and Family Stone. It's Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra playing Lurve Train with Steve Miller putting Space Cowboy licks in. It's hip twitching DNA from the seventies injected with sampling technology and pumped up to Jurassic Park scariness.
And I love it. I know I shouldn't. It isn't Will Oldham or Mogwai or anything like that. It isn't humble and introspective. It's a monster and it swaggers with all it's top buttons undone. It will make the frail and the sensitive head for the door.
But hang on a minute. Listen to that big soul gargle from Chocolate Fireguard bossman Pat Fulgoni on the epic title track "Maui", with Chicago Underground guitar and grizzly bear bass, starting with great strings and moving on to stabs of Hammond and echoey synths. The production is bluesy and effortlessly rich. Oh, you local bands with your eight hours studio time, listen and weep. The string chorus five minutes in, with submarine bass noises and tapped high hat is magnificent. There's a Sade Adu feel about its cool jazziness and it's very infectious.
"Funked Up and Freaked Out" is a personal favourite. Little Feat meets Jamiroquai. Stupid but cheeky as hell major guitar chords and terrific loping bass. Play this at any party and carry out the one who isn't moving. They died last week.
And don't for a minute get the impression that this is just retro medallion swinging. "Beats for Cheats" has racks of inventive sampling creativity and culture mixing. "Tic" is just a great tune. And "Faith" goes off on a space mission soundtrack for any substance session you might happen to be on. And the whole album weighs in at half a middle eight less than 70 minutes. Value, or what?