On the Inside of Kanak’s New EP, ‘Outside’

Legendary producer-engineer Ed Stasium (The Ramones, Talking Heads, The Smithereens) was the perfect choice to distill Kanak’s raucous three-guitar sound on their latest EP, On the Outside. Ed had previously worked with David Johansen/Sylvain Sylvain guitarist Johnny Rao who shares six-string duties with Kanak singer-songwriter Tom Kanach (Grimace, Well of Souls, Mischief) and Dramarama guitarist Peter Wood. Rounding out the lineup is the rowdy but tight rhythm section of bassist Joe Rowley and drummer Steve Brown. 

Their six-song collaboration on the band’s own Pop Clique Music kicks off with the hard-driving quasi-title track and first single, “Outside,” an anthem for the world’s growing band of misfits. If you’re like me and many others who feel detached, you’re going to love the angry snarl of this song.

The second single, “Not Right Now,” captures the essence of a struggle against a tide of challenges and unfulfilled expectations. The punk-gueled nugget sheds light on the reality of postponed dreams and aspirations, a common theme of the EP. 

“Not Right Now” was inspired by Tom’s loss of his father to COVID, another element to which I can relate. Like a cross between the meaningful punk of Bad Religion and the garage pop of The Smithereens, the song builds on a tense feud between resignation and determination as change lingers on the horizon. 

With “Disguise,” Ed helps create a screeching guitar symphony propelled by waves of surf-rockin’ rhythms as witty wordplay bobs along the surface. They tell the tale of a brilliant disguise that hides the pain  and exhaustion of burnout. 

“Without A Clue,” a power-poppin’ expletive-ladened singalong, is up next. The shimmery, chiming tune chronicles the betrayal of love as a relationship disintegrates into an uncertain future. 
The jangle ‘n’ mash of “Too Late” also examines an ill-fated relationship as it reaches the point of no return. Throughout, Steve’s tasty drumming matches the song’s sugar-pop backing vocals. 

The propulsive closer, “Crash,” dives deep into the controlling effects of addiction. Inspired by a friend’s discipline in the face of constant workplace temptation to fall off the wagon, the edgy music captures the stagger of someone reeling from indecision within delicate dance of profound choices.

You can rock to “On the the Outside” live when Kanak celebrate the release of the EP on March 23 at Tierney’s in Montclair. Sharing the bill will be their pals in The Grip Weeds and The Anderson Council. The show will be followed by dates in Baltimore, LA, and Boston.