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!


(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

Mélomane invétéré plongeant dans tous les genres et époques, Nicolas Pelletier a publié 6 000 critiques de disques et concerts depuis 1991, dont 1100 chez emoragei magazine et 600 sur, 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, lance le site RREVERB en 2014, et devient stratège numérique des radios de Bell Média en 2015, participant au lancement de la marque iHeartRadio au Canada en 2016. Il dirige maintenant la stratégie numérique d'ICI Musique, la radio musicale de Radio-Canada.