When "Ready to Kill," the debut album from Fullerton, California based Charles Mansion, came across my virtual desk, I instantly thought that I would be plugging into some garage punk or art rock glam ala Marilyn Manson. Instead, Charles Mansion has created a potent mix of nuvo classic rock (a term that just came to me) that feels immediate and fresh but also timeless. In songs like "Jacket and Tie" and Dig em Up" you can feel the brash blues (hard) rock of bands like MC5 and the Beatles circa 1968. Think of songs like MC5's "Black to Comm" or the Beatles' ""Helter Skelter", "Why don't We do it in the Road" (White Album) or"Dig A Pony" (Let it Be). Charles Mansion has managed to write songs that touch on that same kind of late 60's blues based rock sound played with wild abandon and some sophisticated twists and turns thrown in. In fact, to stretch the Beatles comparison a bit further, Corey Kaiser would be the Lennon (especially when his vocals are over modulated) to Tim Gray's McCartney. Kaiser's vocal bite works so well in harder edged songs like the aforementioned tracks as well as "Ready to Kill" where he strains so hard I can hear the veins in his neck bulging. All this to a backdrop of dancy guitar verse rhythms and a full on "house party gone too far" rock chorus. Gray's melodious tones are evident on "Jeign" and "Small Doses" were he can belt out and caress the lyrics at the same time.
Lest you think that Charles Mansion is all heavy blues rock bluster, songs like "The Gallows" and "Only You" show another stylized side. "Only You" with it's picking and sliding guitar, trancy harmonies and sparse drums and bass is down right beautiful and kind of haunting. "The Gallows" with it's honky tonk / dirty dusty cowboy on the brink of death sound has secured it's place in my brain like a Damon Albarn ear worm. "Trapeze Artist" propelled by Ryan Bartholemy's bouncy as hell bass line and a solid downbeat courtesy of Jason Kaiser, has an off kilter sense in the guitar playing and vocals that is befitting of a high wire act. "Mrs. Johnson" is a cautionary tale that starts out like a slow burn and then builds into a torchy sex pot of a song that is part bump and grind and part last nights regret.
The musicianship on "Ready to Kill" is top shelf in every respect. At a time when many new artists bury vocals and everything else into a reverb wash for full noise band effect, Charles Mansion is kind of a throwback to a more classic rock sound where you can hear all the elements distinctly amidst all the lovely distortion and rock chops. Charles Mansion... still not crazy about the name but I am sure it will grow on me as quickly as the songs on "Ready to Kill" which is one hell of a debut album.
Charles Mansion is Corey Kaiser (guitar/vocals), Tim Gray (guitar/vocals), Jason Kaiser (drums), Ryan Bartholemy (bass). Ready To Kill engineered, mixed and produced by Tim Gray and Charles Mansion. Mastered by Marc McClusky (Weezer, Dangerous!).
Charles Mansion - Ready to Kill
Charles Mansion - Facebook