Urge 2 Surge
Ladybug Stingray, 2010
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/10/2010
Start off with a hot chick with a big voice up front and a drummer with one stick. Add a guitarist well-schooled in funk, and you’ve got a stripped-down but room-shaking groove. Ladybug Stingray is a delightfully original dance/funk trio based in NYC featuring the lovely Kalen Van Kalen 13 on vocals and keys, CM on guitar, and Sugar Bubbles on drums and bass synth. Despite the small lineup, these three create a booming, funk-fired sound that full of energy and power. Add a heavy dose of spectacle in their live show to their great sound, and you’ve got an exciting and vital new element on the NYC club scene.
The band’s second effort is five 5 song EP, their first as a three-piece, featuring the group’s newest addition, guitarist CM. From start to finish, the energy level is high and never lets up. The music is pure driving groove, full of big beats, big guitar riffs, and KVK’s powerful throat rising above it all. Vocally, KVK is a bit of a chameleon, smoothly going from a sexy croon to urban sass, dishing out sultry come-ons and smartass one-liners with equal aplomb. She has an excellent range and handles the lean ballad “Heart And Soul” as well as she does the roof-raising title track.
The album resonates with a thread of smirky NYC style smartass à la the Beastie Boys. They keep things fun and light throughout without giving up the core of thumping, club-ready dance grooves with a hard rock core. Definitely a step above the usual tinny drum loops and processed vocals, the organic nature of the band sets them above a lot of the common disposable dance fodder. My favorite track is the dynamic closer “Neried Doto,” five minutes of raging Grrrl Power and a thundering groove that close out the disc perfectly. Urge To Surge is a strong, fun effort from a young band with lots of potential and a ton of energy.