There’s something to the energy you get from glam rock. The stimulant and rhinestone sheen that shimmers off the bodies of the musicians as they play frenetic chords with wiry fingers. It’s like that of a raver; all decked out in beads with a wolf hat on top of wild hair, dancing like nobody cares because their parents don’t get breakcore. Kamen Ross somehow combines these into a mix of King Gizzard-esque guitar, drum machine, and Burning man flashbacks in Rogozo.
Although it starts off relatively subdued on Red Rover with buzzing synth and floating piano playing in the background with soft drums like being on set for a taping of a live-action Thundercats and they’re trying to justify the top-of-the-line Casio they just bought to upper management by accompanying Lion-O’s monologues about the Sword of Heroes. It’s a great tone setter for the rather cartoony feeling the whole album brings, or should I say comic book as Ross is also a visual artist and comic book creator with a unique vibe to his work. It most certainly does fit the album . After Red Rover, the album picks up fast and does not slow back down with the back to back energy of Theme and Animals feeling more like the soundtrack 80’s cartoons should have had. It’s the manic guitar that really brings that home with his playing blending with the lyrics to bring images of a blown out desert where the neon power antiheroes fight the soulless corporate evildoers with hyperlaser handguns because according to Kamen, “I’ve got the perfect plan. I’m just waiting for the government to give me the key to this city”. That wild energy is captivating. It’s uplifting in a way I haven’t heard in a while (partially due to binge listening sadboy folk) and I am all for it.
Kamen’s voice is something that really conveys the Voltron-meets-Beyond-Thunderdome aesthetic. It’s pop-punky but with an edge that feels like he just railed an Adderall thirty seconds before recording. He sings in short phrases that feel like a mix of Diamond-Dogs-era Bowie and William S Burroughs with his near-joyous descriptions of a post-apocalyptic world like the absolutely infectious chorus on Lightning Is Your Friend, “Baby, call me The Killing Machine. Separating scarlet from the aquamarine. Non-poetic, let’s go magnetic. I got the anesthetic ready, if you’ll let me”. It makes me feel like I’m going off to war with another camp in the middle of the wasteland fueled on peyote and an overdose of caffeine tablets. And how can I forget the sheer force of will with which he delivers the two words “OH YEAH” over and over again on, what else but the song Oh Yeah. As he does, the drums pound like the wheels of a death-chariot against the earth and the guitar becomes its screaming, turbocharged engine. Oh yeah, we shall feast on flesh tonight. Fear me ye bastards who dare challenge my 2000 pound war machine! I shall rip your skin from your body with my war axe as you scream! It’s an exhilarating experience to say the absolute least.
The end of the album turns into the concept that’s been begging to be conveyed throughout the rest of it. It becomes a forgotten gem of an 80’s television show soundtrack. The track Foxy Danger is literally a theme song for one of Kamen’s characters from his comic book series. It touts the skill of Foxy and the fact that all villains should beware of this “Detective Genius Halloween Extraordinaire”. It sounds like the Aquabats but much wackier than they ever dared to go. The last two tracks, Alright(Let’s Go) and The Psychic feel like one continuous experience. In Alright, it feels like the song that plays while a hero readies themselves for a mission. Kamen shows off his guitar skill with the rapid tempo and technical flourishes. It left me absolutely captivated. The closer is a powerful track that feels like a battle hymn because, “Fortune smiles on the enemy tonight”. But the hero continues on this apocalyptic mission where the entire world falls apart in the same way that happens in something like Evangelion (if you’ll forgive me treading into the 90’s). And then it just ends abruptly leaving the fate of the hero uncertain, but something tells me they got out in the end or at least went out with a bang.
Overall Rogozo is fast and wild like the crotch-rocket motorbike your meathead neighbor drives. It does lack his propensity for throwing the second punch in any fight so he can legally beat a man half to death over spilling his Miller Lite Lime. It’s the sound of a childhood dream realized in a wholesome and genuine way. If you have any inclination towards the 80s, art rock, cartoons, or the end of the world, for the love of God listen to this artist. Listen to Rogozo or of course you could miss out on a labor of love by a wonderful creator.