CD Review: Kicklighter “The Fascinating Thinking Machine”

Posted: October 11, 2014 in Music
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Everett Young found himself looking for a new direction in life over a decade ago. Wanting that new direction, he became motivated to learn to play the guitar, an instrument that he had picked up and put down several times before. However, this time was the charm and he added the ability to play the guitar to other talents including playing the keyboards. Now able to play the guitar, Everett Young turned his focus to being a musician full time. Both a music teacher and a musician in his own right now, Young took that talent and created a musical outfit called Kicklighter.

In Kicklighter, Everett Young has created music that has a truly timeless sound and feel. That timeless feel is mainly because the music created by Everett Young exists somewhere in the late seventies, early eighties between the Glam Rock and New Wave eras of music, an era where the music was still evolving before it started catching the ear of the music-buying people at the time. To help bring the music of Kicklighter alive, guitarist/keyboardist/singer Everett Young is joined by album producer/bassist Tim DeLaney, drummer Sam Owens and several others who add a few musical contributions to the album to help flesh out the music.

Because of their sound, if there was one person that you could compare Everett Young and Kicklighter to, it would probably be English New Wave musician John Foxx. The two musicians have much in common: Neither seem to follow the norm, both are multi-talented musicians, and their respective songs are written not for the everyday music buyer but for those who want something more substantial than the cookie cutter pop music that exists in the music industry.

Kicklighter’s music can be found on the album entitled The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The 2014 album begins with the track “Until You See the Sun”. The track features a strong guitar-based feel to the music that easily falls into the New Wave era of music. The gentle driving feel pace to the rock music and the background noise bring to mind the feel of the Thomas Dolby while the sound of the music also brings to mind John Foxx. The track truly brings back the sound of the early eighties.

While the first track had a guitar-driven feel, the second track of “Says a Tender Mind” finds Everett Young and the rest of the band creating a track that features a sound that is equal parts guitar and keyboards. This track is the perfect track to show off Young’s ability as a lyricist. Lyrics like “it is a world without any right angles” and “I think too much, drive myself mad” bring into focus the fact that Everett Young was, at one point, a political psychologist. While lyrics like those do seem a little unusual for today’s pop music; they are not so unusual that they would put the listener off. “Says a Tender Mind” is a good spot to enjoy Young’s playing on both the keyboard and the guitar. The track allows for both instruments to shine.

Tackling a subject like robotics and making it work as a song is very difficult. But somehow, Everett Young has managed to create lyrics about a robot and makes them work in the song “Making a Robot”. The lyrics about making a robot that thinks and behaves just like a human creates a moment on the release that will make people stop and think. Along with the thought provoking lyrics, the song has a much more commercial feel to it than the first two tracks on The Fascinating Thinking Machine. The guitar-driven song features Young creating the track with both electric and acoustic guitars. That combination helps to create the commercial sound featured on the track.

With the track “The Sultan of Brunei,” Kicklighter goes away from the rock music that came before and they take the music in a slightly jazzy feel. The music from Young, bassist Tim DeLaney and drummer Sam Owens creates a smooth groove. With the inclusion of Joe Gransden on horn, the combo sounds as good as if it were an actual jazz combo. The light vocal delivery from Young adds to the jazzy feel of the track. The jazzy track makes for a nice break from the rock music that came before.

Staying with a slower, lighter feel to the music, The Fascinating Thinking Machine continues with the song “After the Healing”. While “The Sultan of Brunei” has a jazzy feel to it, “After the Healing” finds Everett Young and the rest of Kicklighter moving towards a “lite rock” feel to the music. The lyrics of the song help add emotion to the song.

The Fascinating Thinking Machine from Kicklighter is an interesting album of music that features music that could be from almost any decade. The music on the release is nicely varied and that keeps the album interesting. And while some of the topics covered in the lyrics by Everett Young may seem a bit outside of the norm, the songs never stray too far. The result of that is an album that is listener friendly while still being unique.

Reviewer: Matheson Kamin
Rating: **** (four stars)

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