Custom Kings - Merchant Songs

Akin to a more mellow, surfie bum, twice removed cousin of Australian hip hop royalty, the spoken word, drawled melodies of the Custom Kings is the aural expression of a kite on the breeze. They have moved on from the somewhat simplistic sounding and lyrically macabre debut Where Do They Go? with their latest release, Merchant Songs. It shows a growth through experimentation with extensive yet subtle use of sampling.


Swimming In The Dark has received radio attention and is a good opener for a release that seems to be about the life of a Custom King. True to form, there are some peculiar lyrics that are an in-joke you almost get. But don't. A brilliant 1940s-esque samples and slide guitar contrast perfectly with Nick's honey smooth lullaby vocals. The follower, Number 1 teeters on madness as the tension building strings and bass progress to a cacophony of life's struggle, only to reprieve harmonically into a triumph of spirit and sound.


Taking Aim provides an insight into the patience and diligence required to live the Custom King life. It's key and guitar punctuations tell of other people's vast expectations, the steady reggae backbeat of staying true to yourself, and the picked chorus seizing whatever opportunities fate affords you.


My favourite of the release, Not A Word Wasted, is a finger snapping, funk strut sax driven credo of Custom King life. Green Mile, is a beautiful acoustic waltz that closes the EP. Its bare bones instrumentation marries the thinly metaphorical and intensely honest lyrics.

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