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Kings County Queens

Big Ideas – 2002 (Rubric)

Reviewed by Clarissa Sansone

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CDs by Kings County Queens

Kings County, more commonly known as Brooklyn and environs, is home to the three men and two women who make up Kings County Queens. Their debut tips its hat to the city with its sometimes streetwise lyrics, but overall the sound is old-fashioned: a ukulele tune on a moonlit boat ride flavored with rockabilly riffs.

Guitarist Chris Bowers wrote 7 of the 12 songs, which also includes covers of tunes by Moe Bandy and Cowboy Copas. Daria Klotz on the baritone ukulele and Suzanne Price on the accordion give the record both a refreshing and old-timey air. Bowers and Klotz provide well-executed harmonies that quiver with vulnerability at times. Even when singing of Percocet, trucker speed and pneumatic cough, KCQ does so with a gentle thoughtfulness. The last song, "How Do You Sleep at Night," has the effectively ironic sound of a lullaby, and the lyrics "you destroy everything you can't control/you keep your world in a stranglehold" are sung with the utmost tenderness.

Their mix of musical and melodic innocence with lyrical experience keeps KCQ from slipping into the neo-traditional niche. They come across instead as a contemporary band employing elements of tradition to a musically intriguing end. (75 Leonard St., New York, NY 10013)