The Duke Spirit - KIN

Without a shadow of a doubt I owe a lot to my best mate Mel and I don't just mean the quite literally unmeasurable amount of beers he's bought me over the course of our friendship. I mean merits like his influences in music and art which I wholeheartedly trust and appreciate, and as a fellow Gooner there have been many visits to the Emirates together some of which have been spectacular. Those are just a few physical things but more importantly his honesty and positivity in our friendship have meant so very much to me. In testament to his kindness and generosity he surprised me on my fortieth birthday with a very special gift. First a little background...

Some ten years ago Mel put me onto a then fledgling band called The Duke Spirit. Our memories are understandably foggy on the exact details but it we think it was at the Barfly in Camden that we first saw them. I've spent some of this morning reading reviews of that gig online and many are really negative of the bands performance and overall sound. That really wasn't what I expected to find. There were of course rave reviews amongst the poor ones but not enough. I think people's perception of what's good musically can be so wildly different that it really doesn't count for shit. More often than not it's better to accept recommendations from those you trust and don't waste time with the rest.

What I do remember clearly is being captivated by Leila's fierce vocal delivery and mesmerising stage presence, every bit the rock and roll goddess. Also I was fascinated by the accompanying feral and often relentless guitar playing* by the guys around her. The Duke Spirit displayed all the characteristics of a truly great rock and roll band. I couldn't get a copy of their debut album quick enough after that. 'Cuts Across The Land' remains one of my top ten albums ever and having thought about a good analogy for how it made me feel, and still does to this day, I came up with this; It's a savage audio beat down, like being initiated into a gang. 

* and in particular a machine gun impression that Mel and I always thought was done by Dan, but I've since read reviews saying it was Toby? I don't know for sure who it was or if it was a routine at every gig or not, and it really doesn't matter.

Taken at the 2008 Astoria gig when Mel had a lot of hair and I had none at all.
It took me some time to get to love their sophomore album Neptune. Even though seeing them perform songs from it live was incredible it didn't get played often such was my unwavering adoration of 'Cuts Across The Land'. Following that I'm ashamed to admit to having only listened to Bruiser for the first time this past week. All in all the direction they have continued in musically, the skills adopted through side projects and the lyrical refinement has been a pleasure to listen to, even if it seems the ferocity and rawness they had from the start has waned.

Now the band are back and on the verge of touring ahead of the release of their fourth album entitled 'KIN'.
KIN was recorded in early 2015 in East London with long time collaborator and Producer Simon Raymonde, KIN signals a subtle shift in dynamic for the band. “Brimming with new sounds amid a vibrant energy, flecked with sublimely delicate, intimate spaces, and as such feels like a landmark recording for a band that are now in their 12th year” according to Raymonde.
The album features guest appearances from Mark Lanegan, Sam Windett (Archie Bronson Outfit), Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey/Gallon Drunk), Hackneys Deep Throat Choir, Mara Caryle, as well as some tender piano courtesy of Mr Raymonde.
I think the quote above is fair in many ways and not far from what I'm trying to describe as my feelings for the band's output. As part of the build up to the new album release they set about offering exclusive merch and experiences via PledgeMusic. Since that first gig Mel and I have seen them a handful of times in various sized venues, one was a tiny bar that felt more like a corridor, but this time we will get to see them in what's been described as a rehearsal studio gig/meet & greet/beer & pizza experience. It's a stalker's fan's dream come true and hats off to them for doing what could well be a real eye opener into what their fanbase is like (if Mel and I are anything to go by.)
Here’s your chance to be part of a one-off experience. You can come to the band’s rehearsal space and watch them as they prepare for their London Islington Assembly Hall show. You’ll get a chance to hang with the band as they practice, drink some beers and eat some pizza. Bring anything you want signed, take those selfies and spend a couple of hours with The Duke Spirit!
It's appropriate that we are celebrating KIN tomorrow as I view Mel as my brother. I feel some apprehension mixed with excitement but I am sure the beers will calm me down allowing me to enjoy the experience with the scant yet privileged crowd. I hope the band find time to read my extolling post and are happy to sign my cd copy of Cuts tomorrow night. Watch the video for the new single 'Hands' below and wish me luck as I hope not to embarrass myself or get escorted off site for an inappropriate show of my love.