California-born musician Emmett Kelly plays with a lot of people. From Ty Segall to Bonnie “Prince” Billy to Joan of Arc and Japanese musician Takuma Watanabe, he is everywhere! His main focus is his band The Cairo Gang, which released a 10th album under this name since 2005. Here, we find the band embracing their Velvet Underground influence as soon as the first song of the record kicks in: Broken Record has this typical rhythm guitar and 60s sound that remind us of the lost 4th album era of Lou Reed’s band.

Things almost get uncomfortable when That’s When It’s Over opens up with the almost exact Sweet Jane guitar riff (of all songs!). One can construe the laughter musicians recorded just before the song starts as a wink to listeners who would have noticed. Later in the song, guitarists switch to Jimi Hendrix’s Hey Joe, exchanging riffs like the master did in the late 60s!

Cairo Gang drummer leaves a lot of space for the voice and guitars, like Moe Tucker did. But don’t get me wrong: “Untouchable” isn’t a Velvet lookalike collection of songs. The 8 songs they propose here surf from 60s folk rock influences à la Byrds (Real Enough to Believe) to heavier, punker moods (In The Heart of Her Heart) and more improvisation moments (Let it Gain You), somehow à la Guided by Voices.

 

The Cairo Band also goes in softer phases, like they do on the title track, but to me, these moments aren’t as strong as when they plug in their guitars for 7-plus minute jams. They can create the perfect mix of hooky melodies and energetic guitars.

The band has launched two albums on vinyl, “Txyxt Wyrd” and “The Corner Man” in 2010 and 2012, one live cassette “at Burger Records, vol 3” in 2014 and a cassette mixtape in 2013, a 7” EP “Holy Clover” in 2010, and a 12” EP and cassette (!!) “Tiny Rebels” in 2013, while “The Cairo Gang” (2006), “Goes Missing” (2015) and finally “Untouchable” (released March 24, 2017) are available on CD, vinyl and digital… and cassette, if you really want to go for that format!

TheCairoGang_Untouchable

THE CAIRO GANG
Untouchable
(Drag City, 2017)

-Genre: 60s-like alternative rock
-In the same style as The Velvet Underground, The Kinks, Spoon

Listen and buy the album on the band’s label site
Follow the band via their Facebook page

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About The Author

Nicolas Pelletier
Fondateur et rédacteur-en-chef
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Mélomane invétéré et rédacteur agréé, Nicolas pratique la critique en mode olympique: il parle de tout, tout le temps, depuis 1991. Il a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur enMusique.ca, dont il a également été le rédacteur-en-chef de 2009 à 2014. Il publie “Les perles rares et grands crus de la musique” en 2013, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016.