Brian K. Pagels and Stephen Russ, collectively known as Brian K & The Parkway, have recently unveiled their inaugural album, ‘Killing The Bear‘. Anchored in the nostalgic sounds of the 1970s, their musical journey draws inspiration from esteemed icons such as “The Boss“, Tom Petty, and Warren Zevon. Notably, the album is a testament to the duo’s independent spirit, crafted predominantly through a diy approach. However, their vision was meticulously refined with the indispensable contributions of Justin Perkins for mastering, Zac Thomas for co-engineering, and Collin Derrick for co-production and mixing.

The album commences with ‘The Game‘, a resounding overture, setting the stage for what unfolds – a tapestry of 70s soulful roots rock characterized by fervent vocals, intricate arrangements, and fully realized compositions. ‘American Pharaoh‘ emerges as a poignant anthem, its potent melodies segueing into the standout track, ‘Wind the Clock‘. Here, the duo delves into a poignant commentary on contemporary tribalism and extremism, seamlessly blending soul and rock elements. ‘Rock & Roll‘ injects a burst of raw energy into the album, serving as a succinct homage to classic rock. However, it is ‘Killing the Bear‘ that commands the spotlight, drawing inspiration from the likes of Neil Young and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This pivotal track features slide guitar, keys, and bass, culminating in a progressive sonic landscape.

Continuing their exploration of societal themes, ‘Little Fires (The Parkway Shuffle)‘ celebrates the duality of righteous protest and the looming specter of political violence. Echoing the spirit of ’70s Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band, the track is elevated by a mesmerizing saxophone solo. Further enriching the album is the collaboration with Cat Popper of ‘Puss N Boots‘ fame on ‘Straight Through‘. Known for her work with luminaries like Jack White and Norah Jones, Popper’s contribution adds a distinctive layer to the album’s sonic tapestry. As the album draws to a close with ‘Peacefully‘, a poignant narrative unfolds, recounting the fictional tale of Kayla, who grapples with the aftermath of her father’s demise in the Oklahoma City bombing. Through its somber yet hopeful tones, the track encapsulates the essence of resilience amidst adversity.

In its entirety, ‘Killing The Bear‘ serves as a testament to Brian K & The Parkway’s adeptness at seamlessly melding vintage influences with contemporary sensibilities. The result is a compelling and cohesive debut album that resonates with both nostalgia and relevance.

Christos Doukakis