Reviews

Kik Tracee: True Hollywood Story


norules

No Rules, 1991

Time for another hidden gem to enlighten y’all on.

Kik Tracee formed in 1988 in Los Angeles, CA, USA with Stephen Shareaux (vocals), Michael Marquis (guitar), Gregory Hex (guitar), Rob Grad (bass) and Johnny Dougas (drums). Unfortunately they rode in at the tail end of the “hair” metal movement, and didn’t stand a chance with the invasion of alternative and grunge. The debut was produced by Dana Strum of Slaughter fame who called the band a cross between Living Colour, The Cult and Guns N’ Roses. Others argue that the band’s complexity and depth placed them on a higher level than the average band in Los Angeles.

“No Rules” is a great commercial, melodic metal release with quality, hook-laden song writing. As stated before it was produced by Dana Strum, so there is obviously some of Slaughter’s influence on this disc, however, Kik Tracee have a slightly dirtier sound like Faster Pussycat, Britny Fox or L.A. Guns. Unfortunately, despite releasing such a strong album and creating an MTV buzz, Kik Tracee were soon a victim to the depressing grunge scene of the mid-90’s, when heavy metal, hair spray and talent became pass√©.

kiktracee-02There is an incredible amount of depth to this recording. Coming at a time when so many bands were doing their best to sound exactly like Warrant or Poison or Bon Jovi, an No Rules really stands out. Sure, it follows a basic hair metal blueprint, and vocalist Stephen Shareaux seems to be doing his best to sound like Axl Rose, but these songs have a lot more character than you might think. Shareaux is like a force of nature, and he brought a unique energy that helped define the band’s sound. Overall it’s just a fun, quirky rock album that you can’t help but enjoy. I believe if they would have formed just a year or two sooner, they would have made it big.

Allow me to shed light on what I consider to be the highlights of the album…The lead off track “No Rules” was the first single and music video released. They really swung for the fences on the songwriting. Tight arrangement coupled with a very melodic chorus makes for a kick ass tune. It leads into an odd choice for a cover “Mrs Robinson” that works surprisingly well.

My favorite song on “No Rules” would be the third track and second music video, “You’re So Strange” Hauntingly atmospheric, etheral would be the words to describe it. Unlike any other song that came out in the metal era. The solo demonstrates the bands songwriting prowess with a display of Jim Steinman-esque major/minor key fluctuations.
Other highlights include the obligatory power ballad “Big Western Sky” which is different enough to warrant repeated listens. The quasi-epic “Generation Express”, “Velvet Crush” & “Rattlesnake Eyes” are great enders to this fantastic album.

Definitely a band worth checking out for all you melodic rock fans out there. I really think all rock fans will dig this record, and quite possibly their follow-up EP “Field Trip” as well.

kiktracee-03“Field Trip” was an impressive album for an EP. Which are usually mixed bags. Kik Tracee steps it up a notch from their debut in the songwriting department. It’s a shame that grunge knocked this type of good time rock ‘n’ roll out of the water and Kik Tracee never got the recognition they deserve. I can imagine their follow-up to this EP would have been spectacular.

This 34-minute, six song EP has everything from heavy metal to funk, and even some endearing acoustic moments. The album starts off with a choice hair metal rocker called “Outta My Bed”. The very next track, “Field Trip,” is bluesy, acoustic, sing-along romp that contrasts nicely with the heavier opening track. A bizarre addition the e.p. “In Trance” was made into a YouTube watchable video. Other songs, like “Drop in the Ocean” also have that bluesy, acoustic Led Zeppelin vibe as well. This EP was recorded in Los Angeles at the same time as the L.A. riots. According to the liner notes, this really scared the crap out of the band. “These songs were recorded with the intention of taking you to another place – hopefully a better place, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the field trip.” Unfortunately this EP is out-of-print and difficult to find.

A second full length album (Center Of A Tension) was recorded in 1993 but rejected by their label and never released. Eventually the band fell apart. Stephen Shareaux has a new psychedelic band called Revel 8 while Grad is currently fronting the band Superfine.

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