Earlier this year, Kangaroo Court released their first album, This is Kangaroo Court. Formed in Champaign-Urbana in 2021, they relocated to Chicago not too long ago. Their debut album has been a long time in coming. Originally planned for a 2022 release, it took a while to get all the moving parts together. Finally released earlier this month, this album offers listeners a glimpse into the charisma of this up-and-coming band.
I reached out to the band via Instagram to see if they had any thoughts they wanted to share on the album, and they were kind enough to reply. The first thing they said was that the recording process was a big learning experience and that it took significantly longer than expected to finish the process. Finding a mixing engineer was especially difficult, but they eventually ended up working with James Treichler from Earth Analog Studios, located just south of C-U in Tolono. Treichler’s expertise and contributions were “invaluable to the process,” and the guys seem very satisfied with the end result. As they said, “we really tried to cover all the bases and just make a record that a fun listening experience start to finish.”
I didn’t get a chance to see Kangaroo Court play during their early days in Champaign, so I went into the new album cold, so to speak, without having much idea what to expect. The guitar-heavy psychedelic sounds were immediately evident. In fact, Kangaroo Court’s sound reminds me a lot of the Boston-area band Elder — a lot of guitar work, melodic yet sprawling vocals, winding songs, and a generally spirited vibe.
All of the songs were really solid and enjoyable, and I didn’t dislike any of them. The tempo shifts on “Right On” really caught my attention and worked really well. It’s the second song on the album, and it’s at this point that I started to feel like I was on a rollercoaster, not knowing what to expect next, yet excited and full of adrenaline. The following track, “Grandpa Ted’s Big Adventure,” comes in at just over five minutes. Strangely, while the songs on this album tend to be between three to six minutes, they all seem much longer. Not in a bad way, but in a way that a non-musician such as myself might describe as “lively and full of notes.”
In other words, there’s so much going on in these songs, and they’re so consistently evocative of so many things at once — whether it’s an indescribable notion of cacophonous color, noise, emotions — that I always feel a bit surprised when the songs end. I want more of that, actually! In fact, this is an area where I think the guys could push themselves even further, leaning into those packed songs, and add even more notes and beats; let them span out even further.
The short song “Recess” comes at the halfway point of the album, and functions as a kind of intermission in song. I like it, though, and I think it works really well with the album’s overall composition. It leads nicely into the following song, “What Are the Chances,” which might be my favorite of the bunch. This song is average in length, yet so much seems to be happening in it. It perfectly exemplifies what I was describing earlier about Kangaroo Court’s songs seeming to last longer, so lively and full of notes. How can all of these tempos and notes fit into just three and a half minutes? It’s hard for me to believe.
The following song is another one I really like, “Spark Ranger.” This one’s quite a banger, and I’m here for it. It starts with some grinding guitars and vocals and keeps up the pace. I’d love to hear this one live! The album’s final song, “Adjourned,” is the most expansive of them all. There’s a lot going on with this one, and it seems to be sampling from a lot of things. It works well as a closer, leaving a trail of steady drums beats and high guitar notes on our audio memory, dreamy and lingering.
Overall, this is a good, solid debut album. Kangaroo Court was beloved in C-U while they were still based here, and it’s easy to understand why after listening to This Is Kangaroo Court. The talent and potential are immediately evident. However, there’s still room for growth and improvement. But if their attitude toward the recording process of this first album is anything to go by, it looks like the guys of Kangaroo Court are more than willing to learn and grow as musicians.
To me, that’s a clear sign of both talent and, more importantly, dedication to their craft. While this album was good, I have the feeling that the best is yet to come for Kangaroo Court, and I’m really looking forward to hearing what that sounds like.
Kangaroo Court will be playing at the Rose Bowl on November 4th in Urbana. I hear they’re at their best when they play live, and I can’t wait to see it (and hear it, of course).
Visit the Kangaroo Court Bandcamp Page to purchase a digital copy of the album and support the band.
Kangaroo Court with Diet Lite and Venus Overdrive
Rose Bowl Tavern
Sa, Nov 4th, 8:30 p.m.
$10 adv | $15 door