King Leg: What Are You Listening To?
L.A.-based King Leg (a.k.a. Bryan Joyce) released his debut album, Meet King Leg, in 2017. This year, he’s been touring in support of the album, which showcases his tongue-in-cheek approach to country and rock & roll. Check out some tracks he’s currently into below.
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Michael Jackson, “Beat It”
There was a piece of treasure at my grandparent’s house when I was a kid. It was a home recorded VHS tape with an MJ music video off of MTV. I was obsessed with this tape. I couldn’t wait to get my grubby hands on it, force feed it into the VHS player and press play, rewind and press play again. This song and music video made me feel things I didn’t quite understand. But I knew I liked it. Eight-year-olds don’t typically want to dance fight with some rival gang and moonwalk their way to victory. This song got my blood burning and my bones rockin’. I’d eventually figure out the moonwalk, but lucked out of any chance to fight with a brood of dance fighters.
The Turtles “Elenore”
The Turtles Greatest Hits was the first album I owned on CD. My cousin Amy gave it to me; we used to love singing ‘Happy Together’ out loud, but these fun Turtle guys had a bunch of other hit songs, including a great Bob Dylan cover. ‘Elenore’ stuck out because it started out real groovy with bongos and built into some heavenly pop sensations.
Jimi Hendrix, “Castle Made of Sand”
My schoolmate Tommy and I started playing guitar around the same time and we idolized Jimi Hendrix. My attempts to play like him were feeble, nonetheless. I liked this song because it had clean and pretty guitar sounds compared to Jimi’s other distorted rockers and it would often lull me sleep, and if on repeat, keep my dreams sweet.
Bob Dylan, “The Man in Me”
This song for me is forever tied to The Big Lebowski, which presented a quirky, dangerous world of which I wanted to be a part. Inspired, I spent many Friday nights of middle school doing cosmic bowling, which helped prepare me to play on my high school bowling team.
My older brother gave me Pablo Honey when I was in 8th grade. It was my first sweet taste that developed into a long drawn addiction to Radiohead. By that time, their sound was interstellar compared to this album, with their release of Kid A but I still love the straight guitar rock of Pablo Honey and The Bends. When the album would reach this track, I always got excited; it felt like a real mid-record lift into the rock & roll clouds.
Rolling Stones, “Ruby Tuesday”
I love this Stones Baroque pop piano ballad. It has a notable absence of Keith’s electric guitar but instead, a forever noticeable toot whistles, which is the Pied Piper of Rock & Roll Brian Jones on a doleful recorder. Jones took a plastic instrument I always thought was meant for school kids to make semi-grotesque attempts at pretend music, yet he makes it sound like the Rolling Stones are a classical Renaissance pop rock ensemble.
Thompson Twins, “If You Were Here”
This song is pure ’80s magic. The first time I heard it was at the end of 16 Candles, which I’d see on TV rerun. There is something classical and synthetic, even alien about the Thompson Twins, and this song I find colorfully inebriating in particular.
The Cure, “Pictures of You”
This song shimmers, sails and then shatters through the stratosphere but still manages to gently lay you back down. It’s a great song for late night drives with the windows down, moon roof open on a humid summer night.
I love a good dance tune. Jarvis Cocker and Pulp make me feel fun and funky, and they provide a dose of that ’90s Britpop I crave. This one is catchy, danceable, and the lyrics are delightfully tongue-in-cheek.
The Flaming Lips, “Waitin’ for a Superman”
This is off of their album The Soft Bulletin. I like this album in particular because it was from before their smash hit ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,’ but you can hear some of those familiar sounds being tested. This song is another one of those piano ballads done by a rock band. Wayne Coyne’s voice takes the melody and moves me while strings and bells play and raw drums keep it driving.
Porter Wagoner, “The Rubber Room”
When I was first discovering classic country music, Porter Wagoner came up a lot. This song was unlike anything else I heard from that world. It sounds psychedelic, is haunting and borderline psychotic.
The Smiths, “Reel Around the Fountain”
After becoming familiar with their hits, I started at the beginning. This song is from their first album. First, the drums and bass draw me in. It sounds dark and oozes that Morrissey humor I love: ‘People said that you were virtually dead, but they were half wrong.’ But my favorite part in this song is towards the end when Morrissey goes, ‘I dreamt about you last night and fell out of bed twice…’ It’s a melody and line that pops up in my head out of nowhere.
Gorillaz, “On Melancholy Hill”
Bowling again, I coached a high school bowling team for a while. One day we were at a match and this song came on amid the smells of french fries and sounds of crashing pins. It was so catchy and groovy, including a toot whistle that lured me in, as they tend to do. I hustled over to the jukebox to see what was happening. I hadn’t heard the Gorillaz since ‘Feel Good Inc.’ and was excited to see it was them.
Ray Price, “Crazy Arms”
One night, I came home and there was this husky dog hanging out near my front door. I may have been feeling a bit lonely that night so I let him in to have some company. We sat around and listened to old country songs. ‘Crazy Arms’ came on and I grabbed the guitar to play along. As I was strumming, the husky dog walked over to the guitar case and curled up inside. I didn’t want to be rude to company, and a stranger at that, so the guitar case was his bed that night. The next day I found his owner, but the hair remained.
Father John Misty, “Nancy From Now On”
Before I heard FJM, King Leg was an idea that would come and go. I was watching FJM perform this song and some others on KEXP when the idea of King Leg began to emerge as a reality. The transformation took time but FJM helped give me the final nudge to delve in and give it more than just passing thought.
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