The three young men flying a flag as King Falcon, a New York City rock band, dial into what rock and roll attitude truly means. Though it never states so outright, I hear a ninety-nine miles a hour down a dead-end street mentality radiating from their self-titled debut’s eleven tracks. There’s also a genuine life-affirming vibe presiding over a significant portion of this release. It is customary for trios working in this style to flash giant holes in the mix where a rhythm guitarist should be, but you won’t be missing the presence of a fourth musician with King Falcon. Guitarist and singer Michael Rubin, drummer Tom Diognardi, and bass player James Terranova more than fill out each of the album’s eleven canvases in miniature; they inhabit every second of the album as if their futures depend on it.
Writing, playing, and singing for your life is the only way to make an album. It isn’t a downbeat and desperate collection of songs. King Falcon, however, is playing with a go-for-broke demeanor from the start. “Everybody’s Down” introduces us to that mood with its immediate emphasis on the nakedly powerful interplay between Diognardi and Rubin.
In hindsight, I hear a template emerge with this song. The focus in each King Falcon song falls on the conversation between Rubin’s guitar and Diognardi’s drums while Terranova’s bass playing supplies a consistent yet constantly musical foundation. “Ready Set Go” continues in the same vein with notable variation. There’s a lot more beef behind Rubin’s guitar playing during this song without it sounding radically different from the preceding cut.
Terranova sparkles throughout “Set Me Free”. Falcon will make a few listeners sit up in surprise with their stylistic mash-up of rock and funk that somehow eludes all of the obvious cliches. Everyone sounds especially inspired. King Falcon sinks their teeth deep into one of the album’s best groves without it ever sounding completely alien on this release. The bassist makes a mammoth contribution once again with the song “Rabbit Gets the Gun” and it helps elevate an already outstanding tune. It has one of King Falcon’s finest lyrics, as well, an underrated dimension of the band’s presentation.
“Soul Sucker” foregoes any of the pseudo-funk histrionics of the earlier “Set Me Free”, but nonetheless builds one of the album’s most impressive grooves. King Falcon possesses a few hard rock predilections, without question, but it’s unusual for a band that limits such excursions to demonstrate such a command of effective dynamics. “Soul Sucker” sustains a vivid dance between light and shade.
“My Name Is” hits with explosive impact. It’s one of the best examples of King Falcon’s talent for hard rock blossoming in full, but they eschew an one-dimensional approach. A word about the band’s talents for sequencing – placing “My Name Is” so late in the album’s running order is a welcome salvo of physicality this late on the release. There are no misses included on this band’s debut. King Falcon’s eleven songs give them more than an impressive opening to their recording career; they’ve worked hard to lay down an impervious foundation they can build on for decades to come.