By Adam Lovinus
By Lilledeshan Bose
By Gabriel San Roman
By Rachel Mattice
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Daniel Kohn
By Nate Jackson
By Mike Seeley
The Carnevel Kings undoubtedly have noble intentions and tight chops, and their members probably have killer record collections. But sometimes those qualities aren't enough to raise a recording above mere adequateness. The Kings—R. Scott (keyboards, vocals), Philip Golla (vocals, sax), Nic Chaffee (bass, guitar, trumpet) and Mark Gusek (drums, percussion)—obviously are seasoned professionals, with previous stints in the Helmut Stein Experience and the King Mixers. Their grasp of soul, funk, R&B, blues, and jazz is undeniable, but somehow all this experience and knowledge add up to a generic listening experience on the Carnevel Kings' World We Livin' EP (Do Your Worst Records). It's wonderful to know musical history, but sometimes bands can become overly beholden to it at the expense of creating truly distinctive songs.
While there's nothing awful on this disc, there's also nothing that makes you want to slip it to the front of your queue of works by masters of the soulful groove (Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, et al.) or those by new(er) jacks such as D'Angelo, Jamie Lidell or Spacek.
"Mountain Top" and "The Lady" are lightly churning, brassy, eventful funk-soul tunes, but they don't pack that zingy rhythmic punch or possess alluring enough melodies to lift them above mediocrity. "Sleepwalkin'" is slinky, airy R&B that aspires to be a boudoir-experience enhancer, but it's not Gaye enough. "Waste Away" is a too-aptly titled mushy ballad that will remove the lead from your pencil. "World We Livin'" tries hard to strut sexily, but its butt sags too much to carry it off. Gravity's a bitch, and I'm afraid in this review, so am I.
The Carnevel Kings perform at Hip Kitty, 502 W. First St., Claremont, (909) 447-6700; www.hipkittyjazz.com. May 31, 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.myspace.com/thecarnevelkings and www.doyourworstrecords.com.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to firstname.lastname@example.org.