Mitchell: Kongos star is rising

Ray LaMontagne is in his early 40 and has no problem wearing his influences on his sleeve.

Ray LaMontagne: Supernova (Sony)

With his fifth album, New Hampshire musician Ray LaMontagne has solidified his standing as one of the best and most popular singer/songwriters in the alt folk scene. His albums consistently sell near the top of the charts without much radio support although his songs have been featured on several TV shows re: Bones, ER, One Tree Hill etc.

Ray LaMontagne

His new recording is up to his high standards although there are a few changes as he is helped out by new producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys (who is also working on new studio tracks with Lana Del Ray).

LaMontagne is in his early 40 and has no problem wearing his influences on his sleeve with songs that are wholly originaly The one song that might give LaMontagne some copyright infringements is his song Julia that mirrors the heavy riffs of Gloria by Van Morrison.

The first single from this solid album  is Drive In Movies that recalls The Byrds with its pedal steel guitar—and if you listen closely you will hear LaMontagne slyly reference Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone both lyrically and musically.

The song perhaps most influenced by Auerbach is the title track Supernova that sounds like a Tom Petty garage rocker with sharp hooks and poppy handclaps.

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Kongos: Lunatic (Epic)

Kongos is an all-brother Arizona foursome whose father is John Kongos, a South African/British musician who enjoyed a few hits in the 1960s U.K. with He’s Gonna Step On You Again. In the late 1980s the Baggy ‘Madchester’ scene makers Happy Mondays scored a huge hit with their dance rock interpretation of the same John Kongos’ song they re-titled Step On.

The four sons band uses the same heavy rhythmics of poppa and dad even helps out here on a few co-productions.

Right now Kongos are a major buzz band. Rolling Stone, USA Today and VH1 have all hailed Kongos while VH1 has named it the band You Oughta Know for May.

Kongos have been tapped to open for Kings Of Leon this summer across North America.

Lunatic has enjoyed several hits in South Africa while the two ‘feature’ tracks for this side of the equator include the Afro-beat, drum-laden opener I’m Only Joking and the accordion-driven roots pop of Come With Me Now.

Kongos are also arena rock ready. Check out the U2-like Sex On The Radio and As We Are.

Kongos also feature a mean side guitar that can be heard on Hey I Don’t Know and I Want You To Know.  My fave track is the breezy John Lennon-meets-Johnny Klegg-like It’s A Good Life.

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