There’s nothing subtle about Sweet Action, the newest release from Twin Cities and New Orleans-based guitar/drum duo King Brown. Recorded over a two day span at Minneapolis’ legendary Hideaway Studios by veteran engineer/producer Brady Moen, the record strikes the difficult balance of being both a meticulously crafted studio album and a perfectly-mixed club show…without the spilled beer and ear-ringing.
Make no mistake though, King Brown know about spilled beer and ear-ringing club shows: since they first met after Aaron Esnough answered guitarist Alex Ashmun’s “drummer wanted” ad, King Brown have cut their teeth at staple Minneapolis dives like the 331 Club, Eagles Club, Hexagon Bar, and Palmer’s. Their self-titled debut EP, released in November of 2019, is a three-song romp that showcases a tight, smoking, punky set of guitar-riff driven tunes that will have you up and moving. Though it's brief, the EP lays out the perfect blueprint for the group’s sound: driving beats and crashing cymbals, turbo-distorted and octave-up guitar, all sold by Ashmun’s too-cool-for-school Julian Casablancas-esque vocal drawl.
But it’s on their debut full-length Sweet Action, that King Brown truly hit their stride. More than the first EP, Sweet Action shows off the band’s abilities as players and songwriters, with each of the nine songs hitting harder than the last. Lead single “Hit The Bricks” feels exactly as the title suggests - motoring a million miles an hour through a Kool Aid Man-style brick wall - while the album’s title track could easily be heard sung from the rafters at a post-COVID World Cup match. Moen’s deft hand rewards repeated listens as well, pulling the curtain back to reveal layer upon layer of beautiful noise.
Featured as one of Bandcamp’s “New and Noteworthy” bands in 2021, it was highlighted that “King Brown crank out anthemic sludge rock with a devious attitude, building up beefy hooks just to torch them with a sneer”, while Divide and Conquer said of the album “If you’re in the mood to get slammed against the wall and pummeled by sheer volume, these guys will deliver the punches in the best possible way.”
Though their instrumentation and Midwestern roots immediately invite the comparison to similar rock duos, King Brown makes as much noise as five people with only two by turning their amps up louder, hitting their drums harder, and making the most kick-ass moments of any White Stripes or Black Keys song last for the entire length of an album. Sweet Action is a confident, larger-than-life statement by a band just tapping into their raw power. King Brown is here to wake you up.