What's in a band's name? For Knightlife, it turns out quite a bit. Because figuring prominently throughout their debut EP is the fine fretting of their titular founder, lead guitarist Bruce Mac Knight. It should come as no surprise then that the standout lead track, “Otherside,” also serves to define Knightlife right out of the gate as a guitar band, first and foremost.
Mac Knight leads with over a half-minute of muscular riffage, replete with a triumphant tone recalling the fabled “brown sound” of inveterate tone-chaser Eddie Van Halen. (Compare the introductions of Van Halen's “Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love” from 1978 with “You and Your Blues” of 2012.) From there, the chord progression of “Otherside” hearkens back to that other guitar giant, Pete Townshend, who miraculously rivaled the American chart success of his mainstay, The Who, with 1980's “Let My Love Open the Door.”
Since Knightlife is a supergroup formed from the ashes of two distinct entities, these musical compatriots immediately seized on their evident chemistry to get busy writing this accomplished release. But because they did so, we get lyrics that are a bit more “process” in nature – think, topics tending to rock 'n' roll (Kiss) rather than the relatively relatable sex (Guns N' Roses) and relationships, or drugs (Alice in Chains) and vice.
But now that Knightlife is sharing the stage with national touring acts in the promotional stage of their album cycle, their next writing confab should result in lyrics reading like spoils of war/tour. This will play to the strengths of the vocalist, who possesses the versatility of a singer like Kevin Martin (Candlebox), who can emote about those all-consuming relationships that make sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll desirable outlets in the first place. (Indeed, Knightlife's sensitive side is already on display with “Insomnia.”)
And that rhythm section. Whether it be the hard-charging RATM-like bass intro to "Breakout," down-shifting musical bridge of "Otherside" (2:52), or chill closeout to "Insomnia" (3:50), with Knightlife we get dexterous drums and bass, song-appropriate all.
Catch them during this, their live phase. Because built-in into Knightlife's rock and roll is crowd-pleasing musicality. From the rhythmic interplay of that “Otherside” introduction, to the guitar tapping of “Breakout” (at 2:20), Knightlife is a band that could end up serving as the soundtrack of your night (or life).
*** The author of this review, Russell Hughes, plays the mrdanga for the following band: http://youtu.be/tMS73-1kCr8