Honed amidst the underground club scene of Melbourne, Juke Kartel has arrived on U.S. soil ready to rock. In little more than four years, the five-member band has gone from local larrikins to fast-rising stars – opening for Nickelback and sharing the stage with Slash, Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie and Ronnie Wood. This summer they open the Australian leg of Slash’s world tour and, later this fall, will introduce their own brand of hard-driving rock to stages across America.
Levolution (Carved Records) represents Juke Kartel’s debut album in the U.S., to be released on September 28, prefaced by its first U.S. single, “The Sign.” Produced by Brian Virtue (Jane’s Addiction, Velvet Revolver, 30 Seconds to Mars, Chevelle) and Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, 3 Doors Down, Nickelback), the album features a half-dozen freshly penned tracks and six from the band’s 2009 Australian CD, Nowhere Left to Hide, remixed by Dan Korneff (My Chemical Romance, Cavo). With its overarching theme of personal growth and “the journey we’re all on,” says vocalist/lyricist Toby Rand, Levolution finds musical parity in its strong hooks, multi-textured instrumentals and passionate vocals.
The album opens with the new track “Anybody Out There,” which serves as a call for common humanity as much as a barometer of the band’s impending reception outside its native shores. “My Baby,” a cautionary tale of a rock relationship punctuated by staccato verse, is followed by the equally forceful “Bullet Wearing Trademark Clothes,” Rand’s vocals soaring to warn that, no matter what disguise they wear, a woman can easily shoot down a man’s ego. “If Only,” its acoustic intro sliding into a mid-tempo rocker, shares a carpe diem philosophy with “The Sign,” a guitar-fueled journey toward self-awareness and empowerment.
Turning darker with such psychological rockers as “Save Me” and “Road of Glass,” whilst showcasing the guitar powerhouse and syncopated beats of Juke Kartel, the album explores the consequences of mind games and car crashes. The acoustic brilliance of “Soulshaper” offers gentle guitar interplay, and showcases the bands true acoustic talent, before the anthemic “December” segues into a full-throated warning of the perils of excess in “Throw It Away.” The album’s thematic arc comes full-circle in “On Fire,” with its plea for focused passion, and the newly written “Find Out,” a musically layered journey that concludes Levolution with true rock’n’roll grit and lingering hope for optimism.