Photo: Molly Stratton

King Ropes rage against idiocy and inaction on the caustic “Halfway Did” (BPM Premiere)

Lo-fi Americana/psych outfit King Ropes evoke the striking and expansive landscapes of their native Montana, offering up a homebrew of caustic folk yarns and chunky garage rockers. Led by singer-songwriter Dave Hollier, and including bassist-guitarist Ben Roth and drummer Jeff Jensen, the band deftly balances thrilling guitar riffs with more nuanced arrangements that crawl under your skin and take up permanent residence. They are set to release their latest record Way Out West on June 11 via Big and Just Little.

Recorded last year during the height of the pandemic, the album is littered with references to confinement, frustration, and the need to have some form of movement. But these songs don’t exist in isolation – they are fueled by the band’s collective energies and the physicality of bodies and instruments maneuvered toward some common purpose. Feedback roars with an unexpected ferocity across these tracks, jolting tempos into the upper atmospheres.

With their new single, “Halfway Did”, the band lopes through a selection of roughhewn rock territories, with Hollier’s compelling voice channeling the odd angles of Lou Reed and Bob Mould. The guitars are prickly and aggrieved as the drums batter away at your senses. In his own acidic howl, Hollier takes aim at everyone from anti-vaxxers and flat-earthers to holocaust deniers and science sceptics. There’s no middle ground here, and the song careens through these subjects in under two and a half minutes, forcing us to keep up or be left behind in its considerable wake.

“Trapped in your own head? Trapped in your own skin? Trapped in a world that doesn’t make sense anymore? In one way or another, all these songs [on Way Out West] are reactions to, or meditations on, ‘What the fuck, man, has the world gone completely crazy?” Hollier explains. “But “Halfway Did” is the most direct, with its careening groove, less-than-friendly nods at anti-vaxxers, and repeated cries of ‘I’m stuck inside and I can’t stop moving!’”

He goes on to say: “‘Halfway Did’ is a garage rock reaction, (rant? diatribe? anthem?), to living in a world where we seem to have lost all control. Corporate Capitalism. Divisive Politics. Institutional Racism. Environmental Disaster. Covid. End Of Times. What can any of us do? Yell. Protest. Fight like hell. And also try to find some inner peace. What better path is there to inner peace than pounding drums, a driving bass line, caustic guitars and synths, all wrapped around snarling angry vocals and in a tight little 2:24 package?

We’d had this guitar riff and the chorus for a long time, but as we all sunk deeper into what last year became, this litany of words started pouring out; these feelings of being trapped and pissed off and dismayed that everyone was seeming to feel and no one knew what to do with. We just sort of channeled The Stooges or King Gizzard and let it rip.” 

Listen to the song below.

King Ropes will release their new record Way Out West on June 11 via Big and Not Little. You can follow the band on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.